The coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the Washington education system could last generations. Most students are being kept out of their classrooms in hopes it keeps them safe, and our individual educators are trying to keep them engaged in the curriculum during virtual learning.  However, we need to be doing even more this year to make sure every student succeeds. 

Data shows the national high school dropout rate in the United States is a little over 5 percent when students are in a traditional learning environment. Experts predict the dropout rate will exponentially increase this year because of factors like the lack of wifi, the home environment or other outside elements that affect our most vulnerable students. 

Seattle Public Schools should supplement the current student resources available with programs that target our at-risk students, such as Graduation Alliance’s Dropout Recovery Program. A program such as that provides students with individualized outreach, on-going support through an academic coach, and additional resources they need and may not have access to at home during remote learning. Superintendent Denise Juneau can help our most vulnerable students, who will benefit the most, stay in school by implementing such a program.

The 2020 school year is far from normal, which means we can’t expect the existing programs we already have in place to suffice. We need to implement new and innovative ways to protect our youth from dropping out of school and to keep them engaged in the education system.

Ann Davison, Wedgwood