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Our View: Help kids recover from this year of school disruptions

If we plan now, we can launch an effort to ensure every child catches up
Langley Secondary is one of dozens of Langley schools set to re-open under difficult circumstances this year. (Roxanne Hooper/Langley Advance Times)

This is not going to be a banner year for education.

Whether it’s elementary school, high school, or post-secondary, 2020 and at least the first part of 2021 will be bad for teachers, support staff, and especially students.

We don’t know how bad, yet. Hopefully the return to school goes well, there aren’t any major outbreaks, and it’s only sorta-kinda-cruddy from an educational perspective.

Or there could be many outbreaks, many temporary closures, or, worst of all, a second wave that sees schools shut down again in B.C.

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The big fear – and the one that’s driven B.C. and other provinces to send kids back into classrooms – is that without in-class education, students will fall behind and never be able to catch up.

If we are expecting a bad year, then we should plan ahead to have good years in the post-vaccination world.

Someday, likely in early- to mid-2021, there will be a vaccine. The pandemic will abate. Life will return to something like normal again.

Some kids will fall behind this year. There’s likely no way to prevent that.

So for the fall of 2021 and all of 2022, we need to support a massive effort to catch up. We need to put the pedal to the metal – in an educational sense, of course.

We need more resources. More teachers. More in-class supports. Extended summer school. After-school programs. University prep courses, lower tuition, and scholarships.

Even a longer school year – though many would not like it – extending into July or cutting back on spring break.

This is not going to be cheap. But it’ll be a lot cheaper if we budget and plan now, knowing that in the long run we’ll reap the benefits of having students meet and exceed their educational goals, in spite of this miserable year of COVID.

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