Tuesday, ABC News learned of an alarming decline in the number of students enrolled in public school because of the coronavirus pandemic. The report adds that experts and educators are growing increasingly concerned about the long-term consequences the past 12 months will have on students for years to come.
“A notable number of students seem to have simply fallen off the grid, not showing up for online or in-person instruction, their whereabouts unknown by school officials,” ABC says, adding that homeless students, children with disabilities, children of immigrants, children in foster care, and children of color have been affected the most.
Bellwether Education Partners released data from a recent study that estimates that approximately three million of the “most educationally marginalized students in the country” may have been missing from school since March 2020, the time schools were forced to close.
This problem affects each of the 50 states.
Florida officials have notably begun working to determine the whereabouts of nearly 88,000 students who were expected for the 2020-’21 academic year but who never showed up.
In Dallas, which accounted for around 153,000 students last year, found that 9,000 high schoolers, 2,000 middle schoolers, and 1,000 elementary school students are currently unaccounted for.
K-12 enrollment in Michigan decreased by 53,000 students in the fall.
These are damning numbers in a story that should have been a national focus well before now.
While the exact reasons for these missing students are currently unclear, some are likely absent due to their lack of access to essential technological resources, such as Wi-Fi, laptops, tablets, and computers. The National Education Association (NEA) estimates that 25% of school-age children do not have broadband access or a web-enabled device.
Keeping schools closed well beyond reasonable dates continues to be the most destructive decision made during the pandemic. It has halted academic and social growth, increased suicide rates, robbed the youth of memories, and according to these reports, kept many students away from school altogether.
“From a learning standpoint, [this is] potentially catastrophic,” Mike Magee, CEO of Chiefs for Change explains. “What we’ve learned, over the course of the last 12 months, is that from both a learning and a health perspective, there are millions of students for whom virtual learning just is not working.”
“There’s a subset of those students who are completely detached from their school systems at the moment. They have logged off. They don’t feel connected enough to their own learning to log on every day,” Magee goes on.
No, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers — the children are not just fine.
“You are going to have a whole generation of kids who are not well enough prepared for college and careers. You are going to have significant increases in mental, social and emotional well-being issues with kids,” Magee concludes.
This was done to students across America. Much of the damage can’t be undone and could linger for years or even decades.