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Remaining out of school could be 'close to disastrous' for at-risk students, expert warns

Students not returning to school in the fall are at risk, but it has nothing to do with a lack of a coronavirus vaccine.

Research firm Children at Risk say that even with socially distanced learning, more children are checking in less with their teachers in their virtual classrooms.

“I suspect that this is going to be a travesty for many, many students, but most importantly for low-income kids. It’s close to disastrous,” Dr. Bob Sandborn, president and CEO of Children at Risk, told Fox News.

At-risk kids aren’t limited to those from lower-income families, it also encompasses students who have one parent at home, a child that hasn’t tested well or someone who is frequently absent from school. Sandborn’s firm, which researches students K-12 in the state of Texas, has found that attendance is one of the most important things for a child’s success.

“For middle and high school kids, you’re seven times more likely not to graduate if you have more than 10 days of absence,” Dr. Sandborn said.

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These absences have been exacerbated by e-learning, it’s not just at-risk students who aren’t “signing-in” to school but even those who are historically successful aren’t checking into their classes.

“There’s been this significant, an overall lack of motivation for a lot of kids,” but he added that there is one thing that will lure a lot of kids back to school: “Kids like the social aspect of school, or most kids do at least.”

Dr. Sandborn added that teachers are going to have to make time for kids to interact with each other because “that’s what is going to keep kids coming back to school,” especially in the lower grades.

Conversely, the CEO adds that older students like juniors and seniors in high school “may [have] higher dropout rates.” But he stressed that many of these students, regardless of their grade, will be a year behind if they cannot return to school.

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“This is a whole lot of learning that many, many children have not had,” Dr. Sandborn said, “What does it mean when you have kids that have basically missed out on a year of schooling? This is going to have a big impact on kids trying to catch up.”

Shutting down schools would leave kids who were already being the eight-ball in a worse position, educationwise, than they were before COVID-19.

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