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Will students face learning gaps? | Texas educators concerned as students head back to school after months of time off

Students are finally back in school, but according to professional educators, there's a lot of catching up to do.

BEAUMONT, Texas — Children have had so much time off due to the pandemic and the start of school has been pushed back even further after Hurricane Laura made landfall in late August. Students are finally back in school, but according to professional educators, there's a lot of catching up to do.  

Some parents are nervous and so is Monty Exter with the Association of Texas Professional Educators. “We were already going to see learning gaps, significant learning gaps because some students didn't return even from a virtual standpoint last year,” Exter said.

Learning gaps could nearly double for some students this school year.

"Instead of having a three-month summer, you can kind of think of it as a five or six-month summer," Exter said.

Exter said this is a long time to be away from the books and worries if students will be on track academically.

In Southeast Texas aside from the pandemic, students have to also face social and emotional impact from Hurricane Laura.

"And the hard thing about education is that when you are dealing with a significant amount of trauma in your life, it becomes difficult to learn," Exter said.

But, it seems as if Nederland ISD is up for the challenge as they welcomed their students back to school for their first day Tuesday.

"Now, are we going to catch all students up in one year? Absolutely not, we know that,” said Dr. Stuart Kieschnick, Nederland ISD superintendent.

However, the district does have a game plan. The first two weeks of school students will take a benchmark test to find out where they are academically. The district also added a "flex" period, which is 30 added minutes to the school day.

"We want to make sure they don't have those learning gaps all the way up until they graduate. What we want to do is squeeze those learning gaps that COVID created," said Kieschnick.

The Association of Texas Professional Educators says the first week back to school is often times the worst and the hardest, but it will get better. With hard times like this, Exter said patience will be the key for this school year.

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