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Today's top story reveals just how difficult the pandemic was for students. Linda Jacobson has a heart-wrenching story about Jason Finuliar, a California high schooler who descended into academic failure and depression when his school shut down in 2020. Linda followed Jason for months, speaking to him at length about what it was like to feel disconnected from school and spend time in a mental health facility — as well as where he goes from here. 

Mental Health

Virtual Nightmare: One Student’s Journey Through the Pandemic

For Jason Finuliar, a California teen whose Bay Area school district was among those shuttered the longest, recovery from the pandemic has been painful and slow. Once a happy, high-achieving student, he descended into academic failure and a depression so severe that he spent 10 days in a residential mental health facility. “I felt so worthless,” he said. It’s taking compassionate counselors, professional help and parents determined to save their son for Jason to regain hope for the future. 

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Learning loss

Study Confirms Fears of Growing Learning Gaps

Soon after COVID-19 forced schools to close, NWEA researchers made two predictions: Disadvantaged students would lose two or more years of academic progress, and that would widen the range of academic achievement in any given classroom. Now, a new analysis bears this out. It shows that all students lost ground in 2020-21, but in 2021-22, kids at the top surged ahead, while those at the bottom languished. Meaning that classrooms that used to have kids at seven grade levels of achievement are experiencing even wider gaps. 

Innovation

Black Families Look to Continue Pods Beyond Pandemic

Many white families embraced pods and microschools as a short-term fix to deliver learning during the pandemic. But for many Black parents, they’ve become a permanent alternative to traditional schools where their children have historically faltered. In a recent Center on Reinventing Public Education webinar, leaders of the movement rejected the idea that they’re contributing to segregation and discussed how they can influence the public schools families left. 

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