TAMPA, Fla. -- Abbie Malone is a Tampa mom of three young boys. Since schools closed last month due to the coronavirus, Malone has, admittedly, struggled to make distance learning work for two of her elementary-aged children.
“I call it crisis schooling. I see my kids really struggling, and it’s heartbreaking as a mom,” she said.
Across the state, the threat of COVID-19 made school districts turn virtual, virtually overnight. It was a difficult task that, rightfully, has earned widespread praise. But four weeks into e-learning, the stress of it all is starting to take its toll on parents and students.
“I do look at my kids and see the frustration and tears often,” said Malone.
While many districts across the state are touting student engagement in e-learning at around 97-98%, thousands of Florida students are still unaccounted for.
In Palm Beach County, the district claims roughly 350 students remain off the grid for various reasons ranging from device and wi-fi issues to parents with language barriers.
But for the hundreds of thousands of students attending Florida classes from home, Linda Kearschner of Florida’s PTA Association is concerned.
“We’re concerned about the academic impacts of the COVID 19 challenge. What does it mean in terms of learning loss,” Kearschner said.
National studies show learning loss is typical over summer months with declines ranging from a few weeks to a few months.
Kearschner said with classroom education changing to e-learning, Florida educators need to prepare for students to return to the classroom but need additional time to catch up.
“Our schools are looking at that and thinking about it. Our legislature needs to be thinking about it and thinking about what additional funding will be necessary in order to support for bridging that gap in the new year,” she said.
While Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said parents will have the right to hold their children back a year as a result of e-learning, educators warn parents not to rush to those decisions.
Instead, parents are advised to stay engaged and be supportive, but not worry too much about pushing their kids too hard. They also encourage parents to communicate directly with teachers before making any decisions about holding their child back a year.
TIPS TO HELP YOUR KIDS WITH E-LEARNING
It’s a balance Abbe Malone agrees with even as she watches her own children struggle to keep up.
“There’s a sadness and a concern. I think it’s great we’re making this concerted effort, but I don’t know what’s to come,” she said.