Climbing back up the ‘COVID cliff’

Usually, as school begins, we are talking about helping students recover from the “summer slide”. But this year, following school closures in the spring, educators, nonprofits, and other school support services are helping students climb back up the “COVID cliff”.

Over a normal summer, students who do not participate in learning activities can lose up to three months of skills, especially in reading and math. With school closures and the initial challenges of distance learning piled on top of the summer months, most students are beginning the year behind. Economically disadvantaged students are even more likely to be behind than their middle- and upper-class peers.

Research shows growing up in poverty is one of the greatest threats to healthy childhood development. 

In the 2018-2019 school year, Region 17 reported 63.2% of students as economically disadvantaged, above the state average of 60.6%. “In 2017, the poverty rate among African American and American Indian children (33% for both) was three times the rate for white and Asian children (11% for both). The poverty rate for Latino children (26%) was higher than the national average.” (Kids Count)

For 2018-2019, 55% of Region 17 students scored below grade level on the STAAR Test. Also, of the more than 5,000 students assessed in Region 17, only 55% were deemed Kindergarten ready in 2018-2019.

Learn more about important education indicators in the 2020 Community Status Report.

What the data shows is that students on the South Plains were already struggling before the pandemic. Although we do not know the full impact, there is little doubt that the issues which already existed have only been exacerbated.

It will take all of us to improve the futures of our children and get learning back on track.

How you can help:

GIVE. Many United Way Community Partners provide direct support to students and families in the form of tutoring, mentoring, after-school care, and more. When you pitch in, you are helping agencies reach more students and increase support for students already receiving services.

VOLUNTEER. Your service helps create a culture on the South Plains that values learning and student support. Volunteer for United We Read on November 5, reach out to one of our Community Partners to find out how you can get involved, or visit the Volunteer Center of Lubbock’s website to search for opportunities.

READ. Reading aloud with kids not only improves their educational foundation, but it also helps strengthen their social, emotional, and character development. When your children see you model reading, they are also more likely to develop a love of reading themselves.

SAY THANK YOU. Our teachers and childcare providers do so much more than educate our children. They are working overtime to help them succeed and climb back up the COVID cliff.

Take action and sign-up to volunteer for United We Read.