Playing the Long Game

Playing the Long Game

Rebounding from unfinished learning

About the project

Education was upended in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly closed schools. With no warning teachers scrambled to figure out how to instruct students who were suddenly pushed out of the school buildings that provided their academic nurturing as well as socialization, nutrition, emotional support and a secure daily routine. Since then, as multiple virus waves have swept the nation, students have been in and out of physical classrooms, learning sometimes online, sometimes in person, sometimes not at all.

In recent months, educators have been assessing the severity of learning deficits created by the pandemic and what those deficits may mean for students’ abilities to reach traditional standards and benchmarks in reading, math and other subjects. One trend has become clear: Student groups already behind in academic achievement pre-pandemic – minorities, English language learners and those who live in poverty – are even further behind.

This series will look at some of the setbacks to learning but also focus on solutions by examining the obstacles facing educators and the resiliency both teachers and students are showing as they move through the new world of learning in a pandemic.


Student teachers and K-12 students help each other close pandemic learning gaps
By Mary Niederberger [Alana Mason, a kindergarten student at Manchester Academic Charter School, works with tutor Natalie DiGiorno. Photo by Heather Mull] Jaion Pollard, 7, …
For homeless students transportation issues mean new schools and unfamiliar classrooms
By Mary Niederberger As the COVID-19 pandemic eases its grip on education, local homeless students have yet to return to a normal school day. …
First pandemic state test results paint a somber picture for Pittsburgh Public Schools
Lower testing scores were expected due to COVID-19 disruption By Mary Niederberger — Standardized test scores for the 2020-2021 school year, released by the …
Pittsburgh Public Schools “Fresh Start” for the school year hopes to elevate teaching and learning
“The pandemic really threw us for a loop.” By Mary Niederberger — “Good Morning. Welcome to the first day of school.” That was the …
Pittsburgh Public Schools and other districts encounter obstacles as they address pandemic learning interruptions and gaps
Students’ social and emotional needs, chronic absenteeism, discipline issues, staffing shortages and high COVID infection rates make progress difficult By Mary Niederberger — Weeks …
Post-pandemic chronic absenteeism plagues the Pittsburgh Public Schools
Pittsburgh Schiller 6-8 may hold attendance solutions By Mary Niederberger UPDATE: Since this story originally appeared in November, chronic absenteeism has continued to increase …