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A lot of research and data from a wide variety of sources supports the idea that remote or distance learning was detrimental to students across the county during the COVID pandemic. But now, apparently, it's re-emerging as an alternative discipline tactic.

  Growing numbers of schools are 'sentencing' students to remote learning

As the pandemic dragged on, more and more information about the harmful effects of keeping students out of the classroom began to emerge. Even the CDC, in March of 2021, issued a report indicating the harmful effects of virtual learning.  The CDC report said in part, according to CNN:

"Parents whose children received virtual instruction or a combination of virtual and in-person instruction were more likely to report increased risk on 11 of 17 indicators of child and parental well-being."

In WA state, many school districts saw record-low test scores following the return to in-person education, and it was largely blamed on remote learning the year before.

 Now, is this method of instruction coming back as a punishment?

According to an August 2023 report in the Washington Standard, growing numbers of school districts across the country are placing students in distance or virtual learning as an alternative to suspension or other forms of punishment. The report indicates distance learning is mostly used if other forms of discipline fail to correct issues related to the student's behavior or performance.

But the report also indicates some districts are placing students in virtual education right away after what they view as serious incidents, such as fighting. The story cites examples from Missouri and other states.

The report in the Standard indicates the Toppenish School District uses this tactic:

(distance learning) "is used as a top-tier disciplinary sanction, according to its student handbook. This action is considered a “long-term out-of-school suspension” and is to be used only after a number of other less drastic methods have failed to achieve behavior change."

The period of time is usually 10 to 20 days.

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Washington state schools were among the longest to stay closed during the pandemic, and our state of emergency lasted longer than any other state in the US.

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