NewsMaking the Grade


Fewer students attending class amid coronavirus pandemic

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Posted at 12:31 PM, Feb 11, 2021

Fewer students are showing up to class as schools continue virtual learning, according to data from PowerSchool.

Districts reported a more than 2% drop in daily attendance in the fall of 2020 from the previous year. Data shows that monthly attendance kept dropping by more than 1%.

Experts in public education say the change in settings is particularly affecting students who were already marginalized. That includes students of color, students with special needs, and even elementary school aged children.

Schools are now having to find ways to help those students who are not showing up to virtual learning. That includes making calls or even showing up at students' homes to see what problems they're facing.

School districts can usually provide help if the problem is technology access, but sometimes it's a larger issue.

“The harder problem is actually locating students who may have moved or are experiencing homelessness or are in a transitional living circumstance, because a lot of the identification measures to find the students aren't present when you are virtual,” said Bree Dusseault at the Center on Reinventing Public Education.

School districts are already seeing data from fall of 2020 that shows significant gaps in learning. Experts are still looking at this to figure out how virtual learning and absenteeism will affect students' academic success and their well-being.

“Students will have less access to less content, less learning, and also less access to the socio-emotional and safety measures that schools can provide students that can also help out beyond just the learning experience,” said Dusseault.

Schools are anticipating bringing back more students in-person in the fall. Experts say as this happens, it's important that schools keep adjusting and making changes, so students are successful in the classroom.