Inequality Gap Among Atlanta Students May Grow Due To COVID-19 Pandemic, Experts Say

Educational experts in metro Atlanta are concerned about the long-term effects the extended absence from classrooms will have on students.

The Atlanta Public School system opted to start digitally on Monday for the first nine weeks of the school year due to safety concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, meaning more than seven months will have passed by the time students return to classrooms this October.

That long of a break, educational experts told GPB News, may further exacerbate the inequality gap between Black and Latino students and their white peers. The experts said they understand the need for safety precautions for students, teachers and staff, but they said the impact of being away is of extreme concern.

“The longer it goes, the less you will remember,” said Ed Chang, the executive director of redefinED atlanta, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of all students through high-quality education.

Pandemic Leads To Learning Loss For Metro Students, Study Finds

Typically around this time of year, students, parents and teachers prepare for “back to school.”

But this year isn’t the same.

Many school systems across metro Atlanta have moved to push back the start of their school year — or return virtually. This comes after metro students lost nine weeks of regular instruction in the 2019-2020 academic year.

And many have expressed concerns about the long-term effects this could have on students.

Now, a new study sheds light, specifically, on COVID-19’s impact on student achievement in the metro Atlanta area.

Educating Through a Pandemic

As the coronavirus pandemic continues into the final months of summer, pressure is building on school districts nationwide to formulate their reopening plans. States such as Arizona, Texas and California, where cases are steadily increasing, have seen their schools begin to prepare for fully remote learning in the fall. In early hot-spot cities like New York City and Chicago, more schools are moving toward a hybrid option, with online and in-person learning occurring on alternating days, while case numbers slowly decrease.

Bridging the Digital Divide: COVID-19 Keeps Learning Virtual as the New Year Begins

In the interest of student and faculty safety during the unrelenting COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta Public School (APS) students will be learning virtually for, potentially, the first nine weeks of the new school year. To bridge the digital divide, new Superintendent Lisa Herring estimates needing 6,000 to 10,000 devices for students by day one on Aug. 24.

Parent Groups Come Together To Help To APS Families Affected By Pandemic

Two parent-driven organizations are stepping up to help Atlanta Public Schools families who may be struggling with housing, food insecurity or other needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Atlanta Thrive and the Latino Association for Parents in Public Schools recently announced plans to distribute $100,000 to those affected by the pandemic.

The funding comes from the For Us By Us Atlanta relief fund, and through a partnership with the APS Office of Partnerships and Development.

As Coronavirus Cases Increase, Some Metro Atlanta School Districts Plan To Start The Year Remotely

Atlanta Public Schools, the DeKalb County School District, and the Clayton County Public Schools recently announced plans for the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. All three school systems plan to begin the year virtually, based on current public health data on the spread of the coronavirus in metro Atlanta.

The districts said they followed guidance issued by the Georgia Department of Education in June, which said schools should stick with remote learning if the coronavirus has reached a level of “substantial” spread in their communities.