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Helping SD Students Recover from COVID Learning Loss

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Thursday, May 27, 2021   

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- The school year is winding down, but many educators and parents will make use of the summer to ensure kids can get back on track if the pandemic disrupted their learning.

South Dakota leaders say there are certain keys to success. Compared with other states, South Dakota did not see a lot of its students shift to distance learning this past school year. But that doesn't mean there weren't any difficulties in connecting with students, especially at the start of the pandemic, when much of society shut down.

Carla Miller, executive director of South Dakota Parents Connection, said for parents, encouraging reading will be vital this summer.

"Keeping them caught up on reading skills is the one thing that impacts all of their learning," Miller explained. "And then, making it fun."

She urged parents to take a fun approach to help their child better engage with the process while school is out. Local districts might also provide information on teachers willing to tutor this summer.

Miller's group primarily helps parents of special-education students. She said for families who have a child living with disabilities, it's best to connect with their Individual Education Program team to receive guidance.

The South Dakota Education Association, which is the state's largest teacher's union, noted that 20% of the money South Dakota received in the American Rescue Plan has to go toward learning-loss efforts.

Loren Paul, president of the Association, hopes state education officials and school districts use it wisely.

"When we're working with education and trying to possibly catch up with some learning loss and things, it's important that we get this right," Paul stated.

He stressed efforts should include feedback from teachers and parents in crafting special programming ahead of next fall.

Paul added because most districts have been wrapping up their latest rounds of testing, it's hard to know just how far behind students are in South Dakota. However, national data from an online learning platform suggests the crisis had a negative effect on math learning, especially for low-income students.

Disclosure: South Dakota Education Association contributes to our fund for reporting on Education. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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