(The Center Square) – A move in Springfield to add more classroom time to address learning loss from the COVID-19 pandemic advanced out of committee.
A Senate education committee has passed a resolution that urges districts to add time to the school day or days to the school calendar.
The legislation was introduced by state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, D-Maywood, who said it is designed to address the challenges that COVID-19 has created with a lot of learning disruptions.
“Some have had in-person, some have been hybrid, some days in and out, but what this would do is just give them and urge them to add those additional school days starting in August once they recognize the need that their children have,” said Lightford.
Schools were closed in March 2020 when the pandemic hit and many did not welcome students back on a full-time basis until this spring.
It may take years to determine the effects the lack of in-person instruction will have on school children. Surveys have shown parents were concerned about their children’s learning loss from virtual instruction.
Research conducted by national consulting firm McKinsey and Co. estimated that students who did not receive full-time, in-person instruction until this past spring lost an average of seven months of learning in 2020.
Macomb District 185 Superintendent Patrick Twomey said remote learning loss is on the minds of school administrators and will be addressed.
“It is going to be about, when kids are back in school full time, taking good assessments about where the kids are right now, identifying where those gaps are at, and then addressing those gaps on an individual student basis,” said Twomey.
Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, said the decision regarding details of the legislation should be made by each individual school district.
“It needs to be locally determined and I really think it is important that educators, administrators and parents weigh in on this so that it doesn’t grow into a mandate but actually is a collaborative process,” Rezin said.
The resolution calls for school districts to begin adding classroom time this fall and continue for three years.
Adding hours to the school calendar would not come without cost. Lightford said the federal dollars coming from the American Families plan would cover it.
“This would definitely be a great fit to use those resources and catching those kids up,” Lightford said.