The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a lot of lives, but, according to Guilford County Schools Superintendent Sharon Contreras, there’s another giant tragedy that’s been wreaked by the pandemic – the massive learning loss for students in Guilford County.

 Contreras said it will take a huge amount of work and a great deal of funding to make up for the loss of learning caused by the pandemic.

The superintendent made her comments at a Thursday, June 3 work session of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners held to help the commissioners determine the appropriate amount of county government spending on Guilford County Schools in the upcoming fiscal year.

As every county parent knows, the previous school year and the school year that just ended were absolutely decimated by the pandemic – which led to on-again-off-again classes, mass confusion regarding procedures and some highly dubious remote learning efforts for those who had the bandwidth and the equipment.

Contreras told the commissioners that the loss of learning that took place was staggering.

“I am starting to see the test scores coming in,” she said, “and I can tell you it is like nothing we have ever seen in this county, in this state, or in this country – the amount of learning loss we are experiencing.  And we’re going to have to invest lots of resources on making sure students have academic supports and social and emotional supports.”

There’s plenty of other human fallout as well from the pandemic, Contreras said.

“I’m sure you’ve read that suicide rates are increasing all over the state and in the county, she said to the board, “and lots of students are suffering from mental health issues.”

 She added that adults were also suffering from mental health issues.  One study, she said, found a 27 percent increase in cases of depression.

Contreras said that attempting to fill the massive learning loss gap would be extremely expensive.

“We’re spending a tremendous amount of money on learning loss, and I expect we will be spending that for the next 20 years,” she said.

The superintendent added that school officials were trying to do everything they can to the best of their abilities given the financial constraints.