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Lake Fenton Middle School teacher Jason Taylor addresses his sixth grade world geography class on Thursday, Nov. 12. Some students were in class and others are watching and learning through Zoom.  

Schooling and education are undeniably different this year, including this past spring, as districts were forced to adapt to safety measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schools are open, but many students are learning fully virtually from home, and teachers have more challenges this year.

A Pew Research Center survey found that 32 percent of parents are very concerned and 36 percent of parents are somewhat concerned that their children will fall behind in school due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parents of children learning at least partially online are concerned, but this worry is also found with parents of children learning in-person only. Approximately 34 percent are somewhat concerned, compared to 21 percent who are very concerned about their children falling behind in their education.

It’s yet to be seen if these changes will have a negative effect on test scores and education, but local educators expect to play some catch up.

Linden Middle School Principal Rob Pouch said they recently completed their NWEA assessment, and they were satisfied with the results. NWEA is a research-based organization that creates K-12 assessments to measure growth and proficiency.

“We are fortunate to have a proactive intervention program that can help catch the students right away if we are noticing an educational gap. I think middle school and secondary students are in a better position to not fall behind when compared to elementary students who are still learning to read,” he said.

At Fenton, Eric Rettenmund, AGS Middle School principal, said he anticipates having to “play some catch up” in regards to education.

“It remains to be seen whether there will be significant educational gaps moving forward. I do know that we will continue to work hard to provide the best possible education for our students no matter what happens,” he said, adding that this is impacting students globally as well.

Rettenmund also said, due to learning via virtual platforms, that students are developing resourcefulness and learning skills that cannot be taught in a classroom.

Lake Fenton Middle School Principal Dan Ferguson said anything short of high quality teaching and meaningful interactions will be impactful on education.

“It is with that mindset we must create opportunities for respectful learning at all times. I do believe missing 50 days of in person instruction last spring had an impact on all learners, however I believe our approach this year has mitigated a significant learning loss for many. It is our charge to find the students most impacted and develop a plan to meet their needs,” he said.

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