The dust has started settling on the damage done to Georgia’s 1.7 million public school students from COVID-19 – and the initial picture looks rough.

Across the Peach State, teachers report their students have fallen months behind in their studies since the pandemic broke out. Thousands fewer students passed math and language-arts courses last school year, particularly younger kids. Roughly 1 in 40 students dropped out of public schools or opted to homeschool in Fall 2020. Many haven’t returned.

Those findings come from a recent state audit that sheds light on the pandemic fallout for Georgia’s more-than 2,000 public k-12 schools. While state officials pushed back on some findings, local education advocates say the auditors’ insights largely square with what they hear from teachers, students and parents still grinding through COVID-19 outbreaks.

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