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Parents weigh decision for in-person schooling, worry about child learning gaps

As fall nears, parents are left making a hard decision for their child’s future, as they continue to weigh the health risks of sending their child to in-person school. We spoke to a Lee County mom who told us she’s seen a negative impact on her child’s education.

Mother Janelle Williams is concerned for her daughter’s future, and other parents we have spoken to over the last few weeks have shared similar concerns for their kids.

Amid the pandemic, Williams said she never saw this coming for her 7-year-old daughter, Shania.

“She feels like she’s not learning on the computer,” Williams said. “She told me, ‘I’ve done all this. I’m not learning anything.’ And this is from a 7-year-old telling me this, ‘I’m not learning anything.’”

Shania’s reading went first, and her grades followed.

“I was like, ‘I’ll read, but not as long or not as many books,’” Williams explained.

We hear from mothers and fathers daily who reach out to WINK News to tell us they are worried about their kids falling behind in school, setting them back for years to come.

“Then, that’s gonna lengthen the time you’re in college,” said Gwyn Gittens with Lee County School Board. “So that’s just more money.”

Gittens gets the calls and emails too. She told us help can and should come from everywhere in the community.

“If you don’t have children, that does not take you out of the village to help raise the child,” Gittens said. “You can help read to someone. If you’re retired at home and have a computer, find out who you can mentor.”

Gittens recently formed a task force for parents in District 5 of Lee County. It’s called East Lee Education Cooperative. The group hosts Zoom meetings, so parents can discuss issues such as health and education risks, with the goal of forming solutions. For more information, visit the group’s Facebook page here.

A recent study suggests students who stay with remote learning this coming school year will suffer achievement gaps.

“They’re struggling; they’re stressed out; they’re about to pull their hair out,” Williams said.

MORE: COVID-19 and student learning in the United States: The hurt could last a lifetime

Reporter:Sydney Persing
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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