July 7, 2020

What is the COVID Slide? Everything Educators & Parents Need to Know

GoGuardian Team
Illustration of three people models on blocks at varying levels

Parents and teachers across the globe have been dealing with school closures and a disturbance in their kids’ education due to COVID-19. Many students have been out of the classroom (and without a full load of classwork) since March 2020. No one is quite sure what impact school closures will have on students.

This year, parents and educators aren’t just worried about the “summer slide”—the drop in education that students experience being out of the classroom all summer—they’re also concerned about what experts are calling the “COVID slide.” Both parents and educators are worried that some kids may not be ready for the new school year this coming fall due to missing classroom time because of the coronavirus.

In this article, we will explain exactly what the COVID slide is (including projections for educational losses over this summer). In addition, we will provide tips for both educators and parents on how to combat the COVID slide.

What Is the COVID Slide?

The Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), an American research-based not-for-profit organization that supports students and educators, estimates that students from grades three to eight generally lose 15-30 percent of the gains made in math and 5-15 percent in reading during the summer. The loss of student’s educational gains over the summer is referred to as the “summer slide”.

So what is the COVID slide? New research from NWEA indicates that when students head back to class in the fall this year, they are likely to retain only 70 percent of this year’s gains in reading and less than 50 percent in math. These educational losses will likely be most pronounced with students in earlier grades. The compounded effects of school closures due to COVID-19 and the summer break could wreak havoc on students’ retention of learning. This is known as the COVID slide.

Parents are especially concerned about the COVID slide. According to a study of over one thousand parents in the United States conducted by Varsity Tutors, an online tutoring company, 68 percent of parents are distressed about their kids falling behind the expectations of their grade level due to COVID-19. In addition, around 63 percent of parents are concerned that the coronavirus will damage their kid’s educational progress for longer than one year.

Potential Impact of the COVID Slide

A widely cited paper published by the Journal of Labour Economics has been brought up recently by those worried about the COVID slide. The paper is viewed as a comparison as to what might happen to students who fall behind this year.

The paper found that losing 80-90 days of school as a child resulted in a negative impact on their income when they were in their 30s. The research suggests that lost learning in earlier grades has the largest impact on people. Suffice to say, this is concerning information and all the more reason to do everything we can to fight the COVID slide.

How Educators Can Combat the COVID Slide

The COVID slide will result in a great deal of variability in students’ academic abilities when school starts up again in the fall. Teachers will be put in the difficult position of having to teach grade-level curriculum, while also making sure that students who are behind can catch up.

Chris Minnich, CEO of NWEA, says that school leaders should revamp their idea of what “back to school” will be like and be ready for a completely different start to the school year in the fall of 2020. He asks, “How do you help a second-grader missing half a year’s learning come back and also be expected to learn to third-grade standards?...and what about the third-grade teacher who is going to have kids with a wider range of skills than normal?”

One piece of advice Minnich has to offer is that school districts should consider bringing students back to class earlier. In addition, he suggests implementing longer school days or even extending the academic year in order to give students more time with teachers.

Teachers should devise strategies to educate students with a wide variety of needs in a single classroom. They should start the next academic year with the full knowledge that many pupils will be behind and be ready to tackle the challenge head-on.

How Parents Can Combat the COVID Slide

Download Educational Apps

Fight the COVID slide with games! Educational apps help parents captivate their kids with learning. They are designed to be fun and engaging. These apps make learning feel like a video game, and the gamification of learning makes it easier to motivate kids through lessons.

Most educational applications let you select the grade level for each subject. This helps parents see areas in which their kids may need improvement so they can make sure the kids are on track. Some apps feature grade-appropriate “missions” that tie into larger educational themes.

Have Your Kids Work with a Tutor

A tutor can help boost your child’s academic performance and combat the COVID slide. They can create a learning plan that is tailor-made to your child’s individual needs and learning style. Tutors can help identify subject areas that your student has difficulty with or specific gaps in knowledge. They can help revisit these difficult concepts and make sure your child gives these concepts the extra attention they need. Don’t worry about social distancing; online tutors let parents tap into all of these benefits remotely.

Get Kids to Study Practice Workbooks

Similar to educational apps, practice workbooks are available at specific grade levels. They are a great offline way to fight the COVID slide this summer. No matter if the Wi-Fi strength is poor or the power is out, practice workbooks always work. Independently completing exercises in workbooks helps students solidify what they are learning.

Enroll Your Kids in Online Summer School

Summer academic extension programs are a great way to help your student keep their mind engaged while school is on hiatus. Many schools have made the switch to online classes. Each school is taking a different approach to summer programs this year due to COVID-19. Be sure to check with your child’s school to see if summer programs are available through the school this year. For high school students, summer school is a terrific way of getting the required courses completed.

Inspire your Kids to Read

Reading helps to keep kids’ minds active and engaged. Children benefit from reading all types of literature. Reading of any kind, even material that isn’t considered “educational”—like comic books or fiction novels—helps to provide academic support.

Try to get your kids reading as much as possible over the summer. There are all sorts of ways to promote reading, like reading aloud to your kids, having your kids read aloud to you, starting a family book club, or even following a reading list of the greatest books of all time. Any way you can get your children to read is great!

The COVID slide is extremely concerning for parents and educators alike. However, there are things both parties can do to help fight it. For more information about preventing summer learning loss or the COVID slide, be sure to check out GoGuardian. The smart technology offered through GoGuardian is a great resource for educators navigating these new norms.