New York City has generated some outrage for closing its schools. This made me a little jealous, though, because here in Fairfax County, Va., schools never opened to begin with. Just last week, the district scotched its reopening plan the day before it was supposed to take effect — after canceling two days’ worth of classes the previous week to give teachers time to prepare. (That was the last straw for our household: We pulled our kindergartener out to homeschool him.)
Better to have had school and lost it than never to have had school at all, right?
The results have not been good for the kids here, as a new report details. In the first quarter of last year, only 6 percent of middle- and high-school students in Fairfax County got failing grades in two or more classes; that’s up to 11 percent this year. The increase has been especially drastic for middle schoolers (whose failure rates rose from 2 percent to 8 percent), particularly middle schoolers who are economically disadvantaged (from 4 percent to 19 percent) or English-language learners (6 percent to 29 percent).
And this is hardly the only place where schools aren’t shutting down but merely staying closed during COVID’s third wave. The data service Burbio reports that about 44 percent of kids go to online-only schools now, up five points from just a week ago. But even over the past month or so, with school closings at their low ebb, nearly two in five kids had no in-person option.
Many, many kids are losing a huge chunk of their education and paying the price for it.