From the Editor: The evidence mounts

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Last week the Colorado Department of Education released 2022 results for the state’s standardized tests that were administered in the spring.

While the state touted increases in both English and math for 2022, they have to admit the damage is still not repaired. That damage being canceling school amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

I am never going to come around to how politicized COVID became and how much we as a society lost because of it. One of the main areas for me that will also have a twinge of resentment and anger is forcing our children to stay home for 18 months.

The test scores are just another layer of evidence in a growing list of proof that extensive damage was done to our school-age and college-age kids.

The test scores may be somewhat better — but they still are not back to 2019 levels.

According to a Colorado Sun story regarding the standardized test, during a virtual press conference state officials prefaced the release of the latest results with a reminder that, although many Colorado students resumed a greater sense of normalcy throughout the school year, others still experienced interruptions and setbacks.

Think about that — We are more than two years past the March 2020 doomsday for schools, yet we are still dealing with it. Some schools are not back to full capacity. Some schools still struggle with student enrollment.

We cannot gain what we lost in academics when we do not even have the teachers and assistants we need to get through a normal week. Students falling behind in reading are likely not getting the extra assistance because teachers are stretched thin and support staff is not automatic at a lot of our schools.

Multiple school districts have started the new school year with teacher and staff shortages across all spectrums. Bringing academic levels up is not likely if we do not have the staff to do it.

Teachers have stressed that kids, following the at-home school experiment that failed horribly, have not returned to normal in many ways. Not wearing a mask and going to school every day is not the normal I refer to.

I refer to normal in terms of behavior, learning capabilities and focus. Teachers across the metro area have continually said that after the school shutdowns our children came back with more behavioral issues, fell behind in academics and are struggling with anger and outbursts.

This is further evidence that you cannot remove children abruptly from structured lives. You cannot halt learning and convince yourselves that online learning is the same.

Parents did the best with the hands they were dealt during that time. I, for one, spent 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day serving as a schoolteacher to a teenager and two elementary school kids. I did not want them to fall behind academically. I was blessed with the ability to commit to that daily routine.

However, my now 8-year-old would say regularly that while “Mom Academy” had some good points — he missed his friends, he missed social interaction and he missed his teachers.

Academically and mentally — It is going to take a long time to overcome the damage to our children. For some, there may never be a true return to “normal.”

Thelma Grimes is the south metro editor for Colorado Community Media.

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