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Start of in-person class might help struggling Columbia Public Schools students catch up

Columbia Public Schools
Columbia Public Schools administration building.


All-online education has left some struggling academically as Columbia Public Schools elementary students return to classrooms.

Those students return to their buildings Monday. When they do, many will be in different places academically, even if they're in the same grade.

The Columbia Board of Education voted this week to send elementary students back in-person four days a week after a slowdown in the rate of new COVID-19 cases.

CPS administrators at that same meeting presented information showing that more students are getting failing grades at all levels in core classes such as math, science, English and history than last year.

Ariel Schwarting, a third grade teacher at Grant Elementary, said she thinks the school year's late start -- Sept. 8 instead of late August -- is a big reason students might be behind this year.

"Regardless of in-person or virtual, we would not be as far in curriculum this year because we just haven't been in school as long," she said.

Schwarting said teachers are used to dealing with the "summer slide" of learning loss, so they have plans and routines in place to rely on to address learning gaps between students.

Schwarting said some students have been doing well with online learning while others have been struggling in certain areas.

"During this whole time we have still been doing assignments online, I have been meeting with small groups of students where I see there are needs or concerns I have been noticing, whether that be math or reading," she said.

However, school taking place in-person will help teachers with students who need to catch up to their peers, Schwarting said.

"When we are in person it is a lot easier to see those discrepancies because I can see as a student works maybe what question they start zoning out on and I can tell what skills they are missing easier than through Zoom," Schwarting said.

The school board decided middle and high schools students will continue learning online for the time being. A COVID-19 case rate tracked by the district made its largest leap in more than two weeks after the board's vote.

Article Topic Follows: Columbia Public Schools
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Zola Crowder

Zola Crowder joined the ABC 17 News team as a multimedia journalist in June 2020 after graduating from the University of Missouri with a broadcast journalism degree. Before reporting at ABC 17, Zola was a reporter at KOMU where she learned to cover politics, crime, education, economics and more.


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