It’s been over a year since many New York state students have seen the inside of a classroom. That absence is much more serious than it sounds for students, especially those from low-wealth areas where there had been an achievement gap in place prior to the pandemic.

Because this year will be critical to many students, the New York State School Boards Association has issued a report which urges school leaders to address both learning loss and student well-being.

“We know the (learning) gap expanded during COVID because of access issues, as far as broadband and device issues,” said Executive Director of the New York State School Boards Association Robert Schneider. “The students that were most at risk really didn’t get the education that they needed. Most students probably had a deficit in education because a lot of them were doing virtual versus in-class instruction.”

While some districts have tried to close the gap with summer school and/or social activities, others will need to employ strategies including “high dosage tutoring.”

“High dosage tutoring is important because it’s embedded in the educational program, where teachers and para-professionals will do this during the day,” explained Schneider.

Schools may not have as difficult a time paying for tutoring this year because districts have received their first of three installments of Foundation Aid. Districts can also rely on American Rescue Plan funding to pay for tutoring.

The report also urged school leaders to address student well-being by hiring more school counselors, among other things.

“Just imagine the trauma that these students have gone through with a global pandemic,” Schneider told Capital Tonight.