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Report Shows Students Fell Behind During Pandemic, Sec. Of Education Says They're Catching Up
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A new report shines a light on student absences and other pandemic problems in schools.  

The state Department of Education surveyed districts in May to come up with the data.  

Over 96 percent of public, private, and tribal schools in the state responded to the COVID-19 Impact Survey. The report covers how schools dealt with remote education, how the pandemic affected student learning and what the department of education needs to focus on for the upcoming school year and beyond.  

In March of 2020 schools closed their doors due to the pandemic. Of the schools surveyed, around 90% opened for the 2020-2021 school year to provide in-person instruction.  

South Dakota Secretary of Education, Tiffany Sanderson, says the report shows students did fall behind due to school closures. However, she says school administrators say their students were largely able to close learning gaps during the 2020-2021 school year. 

“We lost some instructional time but students were ready to learn coming back and so we feel like we’ve caught up in many ways,” says Sanderson. “Certainly, there are, are, unique situations that need to continue to provide support to. But that’s what we’re hearing from school leaders, and I’ll be really interested to pare that up now with assessment data and just see how that all meshes together.” 

Sanderson says one area of concern the report highlighted is school attendance. She says a higher number of students missed 30 days or more of school this past year. She says students from low-income households, Native American students, students with disabilities and Hispanic students had higher absentee rates.  

Sanderson says this report provides an estimate of students’ learning outcomes during this past year. She says the department is currently compiling data from year-end assessments which will give a better understanding of how students did during the pandemic.