PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Many people expected that the change to remote learning because of the coronavirus pandemic would be sub-par, but preliminary numbers are showing that learning declined dramatically.

Educators and parents are hoping that instead of a summer learning slide, kids can start making up what they lost already.

Learning from a computer – without a classroom, teachers and classmates – was not a substitute for the real thing in most school districts.

“What we’re finding is, both from what parents are telling us and from what we see in the work as parents ourselves, there wasn’t a lot of learning happening over these last three months,” says James Fogerty, CEO of A-Plus Schools, which advocates for improving Pittsburgh Public Schools.

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He says there’s no question most kids across the country will be behind in the fall.

“Opportunity Insights” found participation across Pennsylvania in online math coursework decreased by 63.9% from January to June.

But this summer, BridgeToSummer.org has all kinds of opportunities around the region to help kids catch up, like the free tutoring and camps offered by Gwen’s Girls.

Kathi Elliott, CEO of Gwen’s Girls and the daughter of founder Gwen Elliott, says, “We already know that our kids are behind and have low proficiency. With not being in class, and then the summer coming up on us, it just frightens me because we know that education is the key [to success].”

Gwen’s Girls is offering free online tutoring for boys and girls in 13 lower-income school districts, including help for kids with disabilities, and ESL and SAT prep.

They’re also offering free online camps for girls and boys, and they’ll help anyone who needs a computer or internet access.

“At a time when we are all facing some uncertainties around finances and the economics of what this pandemic will impose, this is an opportunity for everyone to be able to participate,” she says.

James Fogerty also recommends BeALearningHero.org where kids can take a readiness test to see what they need to work on this summer to catch up; and of course, one of the best things to do to learn in the summer is simply to read a good book.

Kristine Sorensen