With more school districts headed toward online learning, parents are turning to tutors to ensure their student doesn't fall behind.
The abrupt transition to online learning in March, coupled with a listless summer, caused many kids to lose pace.
The average student will likely return to school having retained only 63 percent to 68 percent of learning gains in reading and as little as 37 percent to 50 percent of learning gains in math compared to a typical year, according to projections in a working paper from NWEA, a nonprofit organization formerly known as the Northwest Evaluation Association, and scholars at Brown University and the University of Virginia.
With state rules of vigorous curriculum and mandated education hours, more parents are turning to the idea of tutoring. The Central Coast is home to a number of tutoring options.
"They're very concerned with the lack of person to person, individual interaction. They are very worried about it. And they want to utilize Sylvan as the supplemental source to keep their children on track," said Phillip Toriello. He is the director of the Sylvan Learning Center in San Luis Obispo, where they have received more calls in the past several weeks with parents inquiring about options for their kids.
Education center Lindamood-Bell in San Luis Obispo has also seen a sharp rise in enrollment interest. Its programs can help develop students with learning disabilities as well as accelerated learning.
"We were really able to hop in and help them with those pieces so different for every student we worked with. Some students needed a lot of additional support and some students just needed to keep the ball rolling," said Elly Boehm, the facility's director.
Boehm says the center was able to transition seamlessly as it has offered virtual instruction for several years.
"We are really able to use the technology and engage our students in one to one small group sessions so I think that's something that parents and families are interested in looking into a bit more these days," she said.
Heading into the new school year, educators are finding ways to jumpstart engagement, personalizing the online Zoom sessions so students are getting the most out of the lessons.
"It really helped out a lot," Toriello said. "We have children of varying backgrounds and dispositions. And I found personally that it improved the quality of their experience. They were a lot more engaged when the teaching experience was more about the connection as opposed to just coming in or just going to school and logging on and going through the motions."
Meanwhile, the cost of reopening schools is sky high.
NBC News reported under the federal CARES Act, $13.5 billion was earmarked for K-12 schools to help coordinate long-term school closures, purchase educational technology to support online learning for all students, fund activities to address unique needs of low-income students, boost mental health service and pay for various other plans necessary for optimal and safe learning.
The Department of Education has distributed all of those funds, but as of Friday, only 2 percent of that money has been expended or “drawn down” by states, the Department of Education told NBC News.
This means that money has yet to trickle down to many school districts in need that are scrambling to come up with a reopening plan.
The decision to reopen schools, in large part, is coming down to costs. A study released in June by the School Superintendents Association and the Association of School Business Officials International estimated that it will cost school districts nearly $1.8 million on average to reopen.
The projected costs — divided among health monitoring, cleaning and disinfecting; additional staff members to carry out health and safety protocols; personal protective equipment; and transportation and child care — dovetail with guidance and suggestions from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Education advocates say schools will need tens of billions of dollars more from the federal government to be able to reopen for the full school year.