Education lost and found: Lessons of the COVID year of schooling in the Philly area

Students parents and educators showed resilience and strength, but big questions remain about learning loss and interrupted social and emotional development.

Listen 55:30

COVID-19 upended the American education system and the impacts of the pandemic on schools will likely take decades to fully understand.

Students and educators had huge obstacles to overcome to keep on track, and some say the resilience and perseverance that was shown may be the most positive legacy of this moment.

But there have also been plenty of drawbacks. There are big questions about learning loss. Attendance rates are down. Failure rates are up. And many students missed out on a year of normal social development.

The isolation of virtual school has also been set against a backdrop of family members getting sick, dying, or losing jobs due to covid — all while there has been a spike in deadly gun violence in cities across the country.

In the Philadelphia area, city public schools were all or mostly virtual the entire year.

Meanwhile, suburban schools and private schools had a much wider range of in-person options.

As part of WHYY’s Schooled podcast, we hosted a live public event this month with a panel who spoke intimately about how this all affected their lives.

Charity Robbins is a rising junior at Carver High School of Engineering and Science in North Philadelphia.

Keziah Ridgeway is a history teacher at Northeast HS in Northeast Philadelphia.

Maritza Guridy is a North Philadelphia parent of 4 public school students. She’s also the secretary at the neighborhood elementary school where some of her children attend.

Matthew Fischer is the Principal of Conwell-Egan Catholic High School in Bucks County, which is part of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

You can follow along to our conversation by watching the archive of the live video above, or by listening to our podcast episode, where the interview was edited for length and clarity.

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