More students failing after distance learning, educators say

WIMER, Ore. — “We’re going to have a generation of children that just lack the education that other generations have had,” said Amanda Hunt, Wimer resident.

Amanda Hunt and her 5-person family live in a trailer in Wimer.

Hunt says they live paycheck to paycheck after she quit her job to supervise her kids during distance learning.

“They both sleep in the front room of the RV. That’s their bedroom, that’s their playroom, that’s our family room, that is school,” said Hunt.

With report cards in the mail, Hunt isn’t optimistic about her kids’ grades this fall.

She says getting school work done is a battle with spotty wifi and freezing zoom classes.

Hunt’s fear is her kids aren’t retaining what they’re learning at all.

“I’m trying to teach them the way I learned. The computer is telling them something different, so it’s confusing and it’s hard for me to explain something I don’t understand,” said Hunt.

That same fear is shared by educators like Three Rivers School District’s Casey Alderson.

“We don’t know. And that’s one of the hardest things is not knowing if what we are teaching is being retained,” said Casey Alderson, secondary curriculum director at Three Rivers School District.

Alderson says high school students in his district are failing classes 20 percent more than last year.

That’s the highest amount of failing grades the district’s ever had.

He says disadvantaged students and students with disabilities are struggling most.

“We have a pretty large number of students that don’t have [stable] internet access. When we talk about passing classes or turning work in or being able to get good enough reception where the zoom link works for their class,” said Alderson.

The long lasting effects of distance learning remain to be seen.

But if grades are a reflection of student success, both say the results are cause for concern.

“Seeing an increase in failed classes, the last of relationships they’ve been able to not build with us for the last 6 months of so,” said Alderson.

“It’s really going to hurt our economy as a whole. Because these kids are our future,” said Hunt.

Klamath Falls City School District says it’s seen a “scary” increase in failing grades given at one school going from 7 percent to now 40 percent.

It’s also seen a major drop in attendance since switching to distance learning.

At one school, we’re told attendance used to be 95 percent and it is now 75 percent.

It’s even worse for students with special needs or English language learners where attendance has dropped to 40 or 50 percent.

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