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Pandemic Sparks Fears That Without Sports and Other Activities, Students Will Disengage from School

The 74 Million |

The widespread loss of school sports this fall, along with activities like drama, band and debate, is ringing alarm bells for educators nationwide, who worry that these activities serve a vital, unspoken purpose: They keep kids engaged in school. The necessity of postponing, minimizing, or canceling them due to Covid-19 puts millions of kids at greater risk of dropping out or falling behind.

Johns Hopkins University education researcher Robert Balfanz, who has studied high school dropouts for decades, said literature on the topic is clear: Having a handful of adults and peers in a school who know and care about a student is key to graduating. Students often find these connections — both to adults and peers — through sports or other extracurriculars.