Wicomico Co. Public Schools says they’re confident they can recover from learning loss caused by pandemic
WICOMICO COUNTY, Md. – It’s been almost a year since schools had to grapple with the decision to transition into hybrid and virtual learning models. Now the effects of the new learning environment are coming to light. “We know that while some students have been thriving in the virtual learning environment, others are not meeting the success that we would like,” said Assistant Superintendent of Wicomico County Public Schools Dr. Rick Briggs.
Dr. Briggs says the COVID-19 pandemic has caused learning loss for their students, but the district is optimistic for recovery. WCPS experienced a drop in GPA scores for students across all grade levels between the 2020 and 2021 school year. “The drop in GPA grade by no means is an indication of the lack of work and the work of effort by both students and teachers alike. Everybody’s working hard,” said Dr. Briggs.
The drops in GPA range from just a quarter point for first graders to almost a full point for fifth graders. WCPS says the district is closely monitoring grades and school data and providing extra tutoring to help fill that gap. “Our task at hand is to educate students and give them skills to be successful. We take that very seriously, and we will be continuing to do that no matter what format we’re in,” said Dr. Briggs.
Dr. Briggs tells 47ABC that part of the challenge in catching up is navigating students’ different experiences while they learn at home. “Not everybody is engaged based upon a variety of circumstances that they have. Everybody’s home situation is different. Student engagement varies drastically across the district,” said Dr. Briggs.
President of the Maryland State Education Association Cheryl Bost says there could be some good news. Bost says she thinks the level of learning itself isn’t really being affected as much as the pace of learning. “I don’t see it necessarily as a loss of learning. I see it just as we slowed down a little bit, and now we’re trying to get through a pandemic,” said Bost.
Bost tells 47ABC that could mean students in Maryland could be back on track in about a year or two. She says that is a small price to pay in exchange for the health of the community. “We know that nothing replaces that full in person learning because students also learn from each other. But this is the best format that we have during a pandemic,” said Bost.
In the meantime, Dr. Briggs says WCPS is working on summer learning programs to help strengthen learning for students who need it the most right now. Dr. Briggs tells 47ABC that while community health and safety is their top priority, they’re looking forward to getting more kids back in school so they can get more hands on teaching once again. “We want kids back in school to maximize their learning. We feel as though we can do that based upon the guidance that we’re getting from the Maryland Department of Health and CDC,” said Dr. Briggs.