NEW YORK (CBS) — Like many students, pre-kindergartner J’Zelle spent the end of the school year learning remotely from a screen.
With so many kids out of the classroom because of the pandemic, experts are concerned about the future of education.
“It’s not something that we’re gonna get over right away,” says Professor Susan Neuman from New York University.
Professor Neuman’s research is dedicated to making sure children of all backgrounds have access to learning. With many schools closed until at least the fall, some children will be out of school for six months. Professor Neuman estimates it will take a year to get students back on track.
“Over time what happens is that becomes addictive. In other words, they’ve lost those months, they then go back to school, they have to regain those months,” she explains.
Lower income communities may feel the impact even more. That’s because many lack printed material and are considered book deserts. Data shows nearly 40% of children in the nation don’t have access to a public library or bookstore.
According to Professor Neuman, “What we’re seeing is an exacerbation of the gap. That those children who have, will have more. Those children who have less, will have even less.”
That’s why J’Zelle’s mom Adriane Herbert is sharing books with other families. “You don’t have to get close to give a book,” Herbert say.
“You can put a book in a Ziploc bag, a bag. Just think of others cause everyone isn’t so fortunate to have such, unfortunately, luxury of having a book.”
It’s a luxury educators say children can’t afford to lose. Professor Neuman suggests if you don’t have access to books in your neighborhood, engaging with children in conversation as much as possible is critical to helping them with their language and critical thinking skills as schools remain closed.