Governor Gavin Newsom ordered a state of emergency on March 4, 2020. In the following weeks, he issued a stay at home order, and that is when the lives we have grown accustomed to changed drastically.
It has been a year and a half since March 4, 2020, and the effects of the lockdowns are now beginning to show, especially in our schools. In April 2021, the Public Policy Institute of California polled Californians, with 86% of those polled stating that children were falling behind academically.
Although students are growing accustomed to in-person school, many are still struggling with the post-pandemic world, especially in the education system. Sophomore David Ferguson shares his opinion and says, “The pandemic really affected my learning because I don't focus well and my home isn't the best learning environment,” and he continues by saying, “The pandemic changed the way we learn, drastically, because we do not know the basics.”
Resources have been stretched thin, but early reports of learning loss have come out of unnamed California school districts. The districts that did release their data showed that roughly one-third of their students failed at least one class during the 2019/2020 school year, and more than 4 out of 10 students had at least one D or F.
There is hope though, students are beginning to slowly recover from the ramifications of the pandemic. Rialto Unified School District implemented a new grading policy that should help students recover. Ferguson says RUSD has “made it so you don't get a zero on assignments you don't turn in. You get a 50/100 making it easy to pass classes. It might seem like a good thing, but now you can't tell the hard working kids from the lazy bunch.”
Nicole Tellyer, an English teacher at RHS, shares her thoughts about how the pandemic has affected students, especially compared to before the pandemic. She says, “I think that the pandemic has caused all of us to have lowered attention spans; students find it more difficult to concentrate in class, and they have to be doing something else while they're learning, like playing games or being on social media. We are finding ourselves desperate for breaks, constantly looking at the time and longing for the comfort of home.”
Although it has only been a very short period of time in between the initial lockdowns and schools reopening, the effects of the lockdowns on students can already be felt across the nation. In North Carolina, end of year course tests from 2020-2021 show the difficulty that students had to manage through the pandemic. Across the board for all subjects and grade levels, 45.4% of North Carolina students failed to earn grade-level proficiency or Level 3 and above, while 29.6% met the “career and college ready” standard or Level 4 and above.
The outcomes of this post-pandemic learning loss on Rialto High School students, and others, is not yet clear, but the impacts could be devastating.