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Post-Pandemic, WV Kids Still Catching Up at School


Wednesday, May 4, 2022   

During the COVID pandemic, West Virginia's elementary school enrollment dropped and saw rankings near the bottom among states for some education metrics. However, those students now are catching up on what they may have missed while remote learning with the help of a global nonprofit.

Cathryn Miller, state director for Save the Children's West Virginia program, said her organization has faced an uphill battle in the Mountain State.

"If you look at the 2021 U.S. Census, West Virginia fell among the bottom 10 states for both school disruptions and having the tools they need to learn at home," she said. "Some of the schools did not receive enough devices during their remote learning until January of 2021."

Miller said Save the Children now partners with 50 schools in eight West Virginia counties to provide early education and social-emotional learning programs to about 2,300 children.

Miller said the elementary education programs are offered both during the day and after school, with a focus on two core subjects.

"They strive for reading and math proficiency at the end of third grade, which is that critical time when children need to go from learning to read to reading to learn," she said. "And that is really what sets them up for future success in school and life."

Shane Garver, head of education, hunger and resilience for Save the Children, said that while West Virginia's education system was one of the hardest hit, most American families struggled to keep up with their kids' schooling during the pandemic.

"As the pandemic began, nine out of every 10 families with kids across the U.S. faced significant disruptions in their child's learning," he said. "Recent research has shown that kids are four to five months behind in reading and math skills."

Garver also noted that students from minority communities are up to six months behind in their studies, and students of families in poverty are up to seven months behind.

Disclosure: Save the Children contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Early Childhood Education, Education, Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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