Before the pandemic began, the Schuster siblings were academically advanced, each about a year ahead of their grade level. But after nearly a year of distance learning, they’re not thriving like they once were. And they are far from alone.
"Some of the teachers have seen it a little bit on the screen, but they're not experiencing what we're experiencing at home, with their frustration, the crying, the tears. The ‘why can't we go back to normal’, ‘why can't I see my friends?’ - ‘I'm having trouble with school,'" said their mom, Marie Elena Rigo. "Both of my kids are social and they want to just connect with other kids. So, you know, staring at a Zoom screen is is not their idea of fun connection or learning."
"One of them said to me today, ‘know, we used to say we didn't want to go to school and now we're so excited to go back whenever they open.’"
There could be an end in sight.
Governor Gavin Newsom announced framework Wednesday to get K-12 students back in the classroom - starting with the youngest and most vulnerable as early as February.
With safety as the highest priority, "California’s Safe Schools for All" plan would take into account the loss of learning over the last year. Gov. Newsom said he’s looking at many potential ways to make up for the learning loss many students have experienced, including lengthening the school day, extending instruction into the summer, getting tutors and additional support.
Gov. Newsom said that the issue was ‘top-of-mind... It’s foundational in terms of the budget that we’ll be submitting for consideration to the legislature."
In a joint statement from seven school districts across the state, superintendents welcomed the administration’s efforts to re-open schools:
"We will look carefully at what is being proposed and intend to provide feedback to the Governor...to make sure the guidelines address the needs of students and families served by large, urban districts across the state," the statement read in part.
"I think that this is a year to shift our, our focus on academics and shift back to the child...because they've been traumatized," Rigo said.