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Educator: Pandemic, summer learning loss may put students back months

"Nothing will be as it was before March 23,” LaTonya Wynn-Hall said about students returning to campus for the first time since pandemic restrictions went in place.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — As First Coast schools prepare to return for the next school year, questions remain about how far students may be behind amid the pandemic and summer.

There’s the summer learning loss and now the pandemic learning loss, according to LaTonya Wynn-Hall, Regional Executive Director of Duval Head Start and Early Head Start at Lutheran Services Florida.

“Our parents had to go into crisis schooling," Wynn-Hall said when the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to operate remotely. "It wasn’t homeless schooling, it was crisis schooling.” 

Her program specializes in 3- to 5-year-olds living in or near poverty. Add in virtual instruction at the end of last school year, she says kids could be facing as much as a 20-week deficit when they return next month.

“The kindergarten teachers know when these children do return, there is going to have to be an adjustment process,” Wynn-Hall explained.

Whether that’s extended review, or building more into lessons, the details are being worked out, but Wynn-Hall said one thing is looking more and more likely: With safety being top priority, parents who thought they might be part of the in-classroom experience may need to re-think that plan.

"Not being able to enter that classroom with assurance the safety and sanitation and health requirements have been covered,” Wynn-Hall said.

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