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The Students Left Behind by Remote Learning

Shemar, a twelve-year-old from East Baltimore, is good at math, and Karen Ngosso, his fourth-grade math teacher, at Abbottston Elementary School, is one reason why. “I would try to pump him up and tell him, ‘You’re a good student,’ ” she said. But she knew that he didn’t get enough sleep, and he was often absent. His home situation, like those of many of her students, was unstable: his mother suffered from drug addiction, and they moved frequently.

Ngosso kept an eye on Shemar even after he started fifth grade, which is when I met him, in late 2018, at First & Franklin Presbyterian Church, a few blocks from the transitional housing where he and his mother were living. I volunteered to tutor Shemar, and once a week I picked him up from school and we’d do homework at a coffee shop.

Then, on March 16th, as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the United States, Maryland closed its schools.

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