According to a study commissioned by the University of Virginia, key learning outcomes in public schools across the Commonwealth have plummeted over the past two years.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than one-third of kindergarteners through second graders in Virginia have fallen below their reading benchmarks.

The Daily Wire reports:

“As schools closed and districts struggled to adapt to remote teaching, students were forced to learn the basics of reading outside the classroom with varying access to online instruction,” Axios commented. “Below benchmark rates are still largely moving in the wrong direction and a higher proportion of students than ever before are at medium to high risk for reading difficulties.”

The effects were particularly harmful for black and Hispanic students, as well as children who are disabled, low-income, or not fluent in English.

Researchers and school administrators are witnessing similar trends across the nation and among multiple age cohorts. Following COVID-19 shutdowns, four in 10 Baltimore public high school students earned below a 1.0 GPA.

“It’s heartbreaking,” former Baltimore City Council President candidate Jovani Patterson told Fox Baltimore last summer. “If almost half of our kids are failing, what options do they have after high school? This is really disheartening. It’s sad to see this.”