Op-Ed: New test scores show students lost a lot of ground in the pandemic. Overreacting won’t help
There’s a little-known fact about COVID-19: When you compare tests taken from the beginning of the pandemic in January 2020, with those taken now, the numbers drop.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this over the weekend. It’s a significant drop, because tests were initially needed to track the spread of the virus. However, there’s a caveat: The change in tests reflects an upward adjustment. “At the time of the [CDC] first case report of COVID-19 on January 19, 2020, the U.S. was still experiencing only a very limited number of cases,” reported the Associated Press.
The problem is that the upward adjustment is a result of an overly protective response.
This downward adjustment masks a major shift in attitude among some schools and administrators who have been touting the need to shut down the classroom, shut down the school and stop everything. As a result, it’s easy to lose sight of what was accomplished.
For example, the school district in Seattle had been using a test to determine if students were showing any symptoms, but not actually testing the students until it was required by state law.
As a result, the district lost many test results, some of which were lost because of the delay in results. “It is likely that as the number of students tested began to increase, the number of students with COVID-19 infection was significantly overestimated,” the Associated Press wrote. “Some of the numbers could get higher, and some of them could get lower.”
The school district in California was one of the first to implement a widespread statewide approach. By May, according to the Washington Post, it found only seven positive cases out of the more than 2,000 students tested. At that time, it reported five positive cases. And according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the school district has found zero positive cases.
For the latest numbers, go to the state’s website.
One of the reasons for the downward shift was a change in the way administrators were handling results, according to the Los Angeles Times. The state’s health department decided to provide schools with only one run of the test, instead of the two typically given. “The results were then not shared among the staff that day,” reported the Times.