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Care for the whole child

Of the many, many lessons the coronavirus pandemic has taught us, we hope one of the more lasting is how important students’ home lives are to their academic success.

The number of students with failing grades has surged amid the pandemic, according to multiple surveys and research. In Alpena Public Schools, about 400 junior high and high school students have at least one F, News staff writer Crystal Nelson reported last month.

It’s easy to understand why.

Forced to learn at home, not only do many students struggle with the online learning format, they’ve had to deal with many new dstractions. Maybe their parents work at home, too, or they have to take care of siblings while their parents go to work.

Kids also face many new stresses. Maybe their parents lost their jobs and they’re worried about money. Maybe they lost a loved one to the disease or miss a loved one they haven’t been able to see. Plus they feel all the same anxiety about the virus as we feel.

Nelson reported recently that the caseload had grown 25% for Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency’s School Success Partnership Program, which helps struggling students.

Such stories highlight the fact that we must care for the whole child — emotional, social, physical, economic — if we want that child to succeed in school. If we want our kids to perform better academically to be better prepared for life, we can’t just test them more or throw money into classrooms. We have to make sure they’re taken care of at home, too, so they are rested, relaxed, and ready to learn.

We urge every reader to invest in programs that help kids, if they can, and we hope policymakers in Lansing and Washington learn that COVID-19 lesson and appropriate public resources, accordingly.

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