Department of Education study suggests virtual school negatively impacted some learning

Some parents around New Jersey have said that virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic did not work for them and their children. For months, many petitioned their school districts to go back to the classroom full time. And now there is data to support their argument.
Secaucus resident Danielle Miller’s son Jaxon is in the third grade. Miller is one of the parents who believes that virtual learning was a failure.
“He said it was harder to concentrate. So I think there was a lot more he could’ve taken in this year that he did not,” Miller says.
Miller says that her son’s grades are good, but that the format wasn’t challenging. She also says that there wasn’t enough instruction time.
“My son is in school from 8:20 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Now you’re giving them a 20-minute snack. And they're not even allowed to eat in school, snack/screen break,” Miller says.
The parents’ concerns are backed by data from the Department of Education. The results from an assessment this winter showed that 1 in 3 students are “below grade level” in math and English. Specifically, 37% tested below-grade level in English and 37% tested below-grade level in math.
Another Secaucus parent, Danielle Vecchione, has three sons in the district. But she says that it is her 5-year-old son Nicholas, who has autism, whose virtual experience was not at all helpful.
“I have requested that he be retained. So he will be staying back in kindergarten,” Vecchione says.
She says that sitting in front of a computer was difficult for Nicholas.
“I didn’t think it was the right move to go ahead to first grade. He just wasn’t there. He’s also a summer baby, he’s a boy. He’s younger,” Vecchione says.
In Secaucus, the district switched to five days of half-days in April. Parents say their children are improving, a decision somewhat bolstered by this new data.
The parents say that they are also concerned about their children’s emotional and social well-being while learning remotely. This impact was not a part of the study.