by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
As report cards begin to roll out for fall, public schools across the nation are reporting a massive increase in children failing classes, due to the majority going online and the chaos of rolling COVID closures. In Fairfax, Virginia, one of the nation’s largest districts, “the percentage of middle school and high school students earning F’s in at least two classes jumped by 83 percent: from 6 percent to 11 percent,” the Washington Post reported Tuesday. That’s nearly 10,000 children.
Saint Paul, Minnesota, reported recently that 40 percent of high school students are failing, “about double what we might expect in a typical year,” said the large district’s superintendent. It’s even worse for younger children.
In Houston, Texas, the superintendent says 42 percent of students failed two or more classes this fall, up from 11 percent in a typical year. In Alabama, 5,000 children have never shown up for class this school year, either in-person or online.
In October, 79 percent of U.S. parents of school-age children told Pew their children were receiving either entirely or partially online instruction this school year. Only 20 percent of U.S. kids were reported as receiving fully in-person instruction this school year.
In-person instruction decreased further in November due to media panic over increasing COVID cases, even though research shows children are at lower risk of a bad case of COVID than from the seasonal flu, and most teachers are also young and in the low-risk category. Foreign countries that kept schools open found they did not significantly contribute to COVID spread. The United States is a first-world outlier in continuing to keep children online now for nearly an entire school year.
Data showing children are at low risk from COVID was available by early summer 2020, yet most public schools have kept or increased online activities after shutting down in the spring. …