Baton Rouge, La. (April 13, 2021) – Baton Rouge Alliance for Students CEO Adonica Pelichet Duggan issued the following statement today regarding pandemic-driven learning loss and the response by EBR Schools “Despite the often extraordinary efforts by teachers and families to educate Baton Rouge’s children during the pandemic, many students have lost ground amid school closures, virtual schooling, and the trauma of a global crisis. Many of the students who suffered the largest loss of learning are those who were already most underserved by the system. Our community cannot pass on the opportunity now before it to not only gain back lost ground, but to give our students a leg up in the race to narrow the achievement gap. When COVID-19 forced the closure of Baton Rouge schools in March 2020, few could have imagined the full impact the pandemic would have on so many aspects of our children’s lives. Over a year later, with vaccines in wide distribution, many signs point to the beginning of a recovery. But just as the health implications of COVID-19 have varied from community to community, some students’ education has been weakened more than others. Our most vulnerable students have suffered the most and education researchers from all sides of the political spectrum warn that, left unchecked, pre-existing achievement gaps stand to widen dramatically.A monumental amount of federal relief dollars have been targeted to helping school districts in Louisiana reverse the tide of learning loss that swept in with the pandemic. The level of federal aid available to districts – more than $1.3 billion statewide – gives EBR Schools the tremendous opportunity to not only return to normal, but to accelerate student improvement and set Baton Rouge on a path to greater and more equitable student outcomes than we have ever before been able to achieve. This moment of opportunity calls for bold action.With summer on the horizon, a strategic planning process ongoing, and incredible amounts of new funding available, EBR Schools has the chance to lay the groundwork for years of significant progress. Getting back to normal is not good enough. It is essential that funding is sought and allocated to address equity in education quality, provide comprehensive social-emotional tools for students, improve educator resources, and engage community partners in supporting the whole child. The pandemic quickly taught us that community organizations play an important role in supporting children and families’ needs, both in and out of school, and they have a vital part to play in addressing students’ needs in the recovery.The Louisiana Department of Education recently gave guidance on appropriate uses of federal funding by school districts. The comprehensive list highlights addressing both the unique needs and learning loss of low-income children, children with disabilities, English Learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth. These priorities should be front-and-center in EBR Schools’ strategic plan. Families and teachers became more active partners in education during the pandemic, and that partnership must continue if we are to effectively mitigate the learning loss that took place for so many students and go beyond that to close the achievement gap that exists for so many more. The partnership born of necessity now has an opportunity to become solidified as we craft an ambitious shared vision of educational excellence for Baton Rouge students. EBR Schools is making moves to address these issues and we applaud the urgency with which it is taking action. We also know that success in this effort must include ongoing dialogue with families, educators and community partners, and must be more comprehensive, strategic, and intentional in order to achieve the outcomes we all want for Baton Rouge students.”