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Rural Schools Have Battled Bad Internet, Low Attendance and Academic Decline Through the Pandemic. Now the Push Is On to Return Students to Classrooms — Safely

As the first full semester for U.S. schools during the pandemic comes to an end, education experts and parents alike are concerned about its effects on children’s academic progress. From the Mexican border to the Upper Midwest, Oregon to Virginia and on Native American reservations across the West, that anxiety is magnified in rural areas, which are far less likely to have access to high-speed or even consistent internet in a time of extensive virtual schooling.

Gauging students’ progress right now is like tracking a panther — both are elusive. It’s unclear how far the pandemic has set back learning in the past year, as many states have put temporary holds on regular assessment tests. And many children are not in classrooms for educators to keep tabs on. But some initial research has not been encouraging, with students falling behind, most notably in math.

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