The student news site of Daniel Pearl Magnet High School in Lake Balboa, CA
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Gabrielle Lashley

Juniors Jenica Felicitas, Angela Ledesma-Grattarola and Naamah Silcott take an online exam during their second period AP Environmental Science class at DPMHS after coming back to school from distance learning.

Learning loss still affects students while on campus

After being back on campus for several weeks, students like Danielle Gonzalez are still being affected by learning loss suffered during distance learning.

“Some struggles that I am facing while being back (in) school is having to wake up early,” Gonzalez said. “Distance learning started at 9:00 and now I have to wake up earlier to get ready.”

Los Angeles Unified School District students were in distance learning from March 15, 2020, through all of the 2020-2021 school year. Due to distance learning, students don’t remember topics that they covered. This could be for a couple of reasons such as low attendance, poor mental health, etc. Having to come back to in-person school while not remembering what they learned in the previous semesters has been stressful for students. The situation has been frustrating for many students because if students have to take the next level of a subject or a harder subject, then they can’t use the skills they were supposed to have acquired. All of these issues are caused by learning loss, which is any specific or general loss of knowledge and skills in academic progress. Known to be due to extended gaps or discontinuities in a student’s education according to EdGlossary

“Online school wasn’t beneficial for me.” Gonzalez said. “I couldn’t access the resources that I needed.” 

On the other hand, an article by the Centers for Disease Control states that the pandemic has affected mental health. “CDC actions, such as social distancing, are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but they can make us feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety.”Attendance in schools dropped during the pandemic as well.“An average of 21 percent of their students have been “essentially truant” or unreachable during COVID-19 closures.” According to the article by Education Week, “an average of 21 percent of their students have been “essentially truant” or unreachable during COVID-19 closures.”

“One of the biggest difficulties for everyone was trying to learn new platforms from home,” Daniel Pearl Magnet High School Principal Armen Petrossian said. “As well as stress and no social contact.”

Some students fell behind in their classes, causing students to make less progress in school. According to CNBC’s article “Virtual school resulted in ‘significant’ academic learning loss”, study finds on learning loss, “more than 97% — of educators reported seeing some learning loss in their students over the past year when compared with children in previous years, or 57%, estimated their students are behind by more than three months in their social-emotional progress.” 

According to attendance records provided by Armen Petrossian, from the 2020-2021 school year, 88% of our students had Proficient/Advanced attendance (96%) .  This means that they missed no more than 0-7 days for the entire school year. 3.98% had Basic attendance (between 92-95%). This means that they missed between 8-14 days during the school year. 7.98% (below 91%) were chronically absent. This means that they missed (15-24 absences) a year. 

“I’m still transitioning (from online to in-person),” a DPMHS student said in a poll. “It’s tough because I need to put (in) five times the effort now. I got too lazy and comfortable with the swift and easy work during distance learning. I’m trying to adjust by giving myself a mental moment to just relax for a few minutes and organize my thoughts and priorities.”

Despite students falling behind, Petrossian said that he and the staff of DPMHS are trying to take steps to combat these issues and help the students that need the extra support. They hope the social interactions will help students and teachers emotionally because students need social interaction. Other ways that teachers have fought against learning loss is going over assignments again, making sure students are understanding and catching them up. With the new 4×4 schedule students will have a chance to retake classes they may have failed during distance learning.

“I feel like emotionally the students were ready to come back because people crave structure and (being social) but academically whether students fall behind or not, we as a school are responsible to make sure they catch up,” Petrossian said.

The transition from middle school to high school has been hard on freshman like Anthony De La Maza because they didn’t feel prepared to come into high school due to the fact that they were still stuck in a middle school mindset since they have been distance learning since the second semester of their 7th grade.. According to De La Maza, in middle school, grades didn’t matter as much as high school grades so students didn’t try as hard. This affected students because when they entered high school that mindset stuck with them.

“It was kind of weird switching from online middle school to in person high school because it’s different,” De La Maza said. “I got used to online school so being in person is something I had to get used to.” 

Learning loss wasn’t only hard on students though, teachers like James Morrison, DPMHS Sciences teacher had difficulties with online school. Teachers had to learn new platforms and had to change their usual way of teaching to accommodate for the pandemic. Teachers also had to teach over Zoom, which had a lot of hardships.

“My whole teaching style had to adapt,” Morrison said. “I had more Zoom, Powerpoint, and had to just rely on the online book.” “Now I have to catch the students up and re-go over things that they were supposed to have learned.”

Despite learning loss, students and teachers hope to be able to combat learning loss and are striving for a better,  more accommodating learning place.

“We are getting back on track for a better school year,” Petrossian said. “Learning loss is being dealt with in the classrooms and soon we hope to be able to catch students up.”

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