Simplified: Sioux Falls area tutors say kids are coming back at a normal or above-normal rate, and despite in-person school for most kids all year, they’re seeing learning loss due to the pandemic.

Why it matters:

  • Last summer, tutoring places like Sylvan Learning and Mathnasium saw a sharp decline in students, with some going to online-only tutoring and others choosing to just stay home amid pandemic concerns.
  • Now, kids are back. And tutors are doing what they can – including expanded hours – to help them catch up.
  • Even though Sioux Falls schools stayed mostly open, many students still missed school – sometimes for weeks at a time – because they either contracted or were exposed to COVID-19, said Michelle McGuckin, one of the owners of Sylvan.
  • McGuckin's also noticed the pandemic caused parents to play closer attention to their kids’ learning and potential gaps.
“They’re more willing to talk about things ... it’s an easier conversation to have than maybe in prior years,” McGuckin said.

What are tutors doing differently now?

A couple of things.

Sylvan expanded hours and added on more teachers than they've had in previous years.

It also lowered the price for assessments from $95 to $29 during the spring.

At Mathnasium, tutors have offered virtual tutoring since early 2020.

They're also doing lots of things the same. That includes working with kids one-on-one to figure out what skills they missed and how to catch them up, owner Matt Manes said.

"I think a lot of students, unfortunately, struggled last year because they were trying to learn things building off stuff at the end of 2020 (when schools were closed,)" Manes said.

What else should parents know?

First, pandemic learning loss is real, but doesn't have to mean kids fall behind permanently.

"For some of our students, it's almost like they lost a year of schooling or a half-year of schooling," Manes said.

But, he added, once a tutor can identify the concept a student missed, they're able to fill in the gaps and catch them up.

And as for summer tutoring?

"It's not too late," McGuckin said.