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Schools will need to address learning lapses post-COVID, experts say

"This has been a shared experience. I do think we're gonna find new ways to get this educational work done," said TCU education professor Marla McGhee.

DALLAS — As North Texas school districts are scrambling to formulate what summer school and the fall semester will look like, both experts and parents worry about what a learning lapse could do to young students.

The Texas Education Agency this week projected an exponential drop in achievement because of coronavirus, and it's still too early to determine whether students can come back to the classroom or remain learning from home. 

One expert says while a lull in achievement is every educator's worry, teachers will find new ways to work through it.

"This has been a shared experience. I do think we're gonna find new ways to get this educational work done," said Marla McGhee, a professor of education leadership at Texas Christian University.

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McGhee advises parents, teachers and students to take a measured approach and not be overly "hysterical" over concerns your child will suffer. She's been in education for more than 40 years and says our students backtracking during long calendar lulls has and always will be every educator's worry.

"Our current circumstances exacerbate that concern," McGhee said. "Once we get back in schools the diagnostic work that we do as educators is helping understand where children are," she said.

One person who is worried about the educational effects of coronavirus is Dallas ISD parent Abby Mayer. She is a single mother to Billye, a third-grader at Kramer Elementary.

"I miss school. My daughter misses school. I miss her going to school," said Mayer.

Mayer, a member of the "Parent Advocates for DISD" Facebook group, has faith in her school's ability to respond to the crisis and has little concern about Billye attending school in the fall. 

She does, however, hope the school seeks input from all stakeholders, especially parents, through surveys and focus groups.

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"I think the best thing that could happen is over-communication from the district and from campus leaders. And what we're doing to keep kids safe," Mayer said.

McGhee said that people should prepare for school to be different. She advises parents, students and educators need to work together to make sure learning isn't falling off.

"Making the internet available to all households might be something coming out of this. Because we may have to turn to those again depending on how this pandemic plays out," McGhee said.

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