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School still dealing with learning loss three years after start of pandemic

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  • Staff Report 

As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third year, schools in New York are grappling with continued learning loss, mental health complications, and chronic absenteeism. While lawmakers negotiate a $227 billion budget proposed by Governor Kathy Hochul, there are growing calls to help school districts recover from the pandemic-induced problems.

Republican state Senator Jake Ashby is among those urging the state to provide support for students in the budget. “Every student, especially young people in my district from rural areas, deserves the same support from the state,” Ashby said. “Funding for students in the state budget means improving our schools without burdening local property taxpayers.”

Ashby is backing several proposals, including universal school lunches, funding for mental health counselors and resource officers from the State Police at every school, and the hiring of librarians. He also wants to expand after-school programming with a dedicated funding stream for districts. Ashby outlined his push for the proposals in a letter to Governor Hochul sent this week.

“It’s important that discussions about how to improve outcomes for our students happen in the context of the budget,” Ashby said. “I believe these proposals will make a big difference for students, and I believe they should be a priority in the budget. We can help students catch up and stay ahead in the future.”

Governor Hochul has proposed an increase in direct aid to school districts, a move that has long been called for by education advocates in New York. The proposed funding is expected to help schools recover from the pandemic-induced disruptions and support students in their academic and social development.

The call for funding comes as schools continue to grapple with the challenges posed by the pandemic. As students face learning loss, mental health complications, and chronic absenteeism, it is crucial that the state provides the necessary resources to help them thrive academically, feel safe at school, and access mental health services if needed.