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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke March 31, 2020

Don’t fall for these hoaxes about students having to repeat their grade

If Your Time is short

  • Stories about students having to repeat their grade originated on hoax sites.
  • The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted schooling, and educators have speculated that some students may have to repeat their grade if shutdowns last for several months.

As school districts around the country have closed their doors to help combat the spread of COVID-19, tens of millions of children have been thrust into virtual classrooms, posing challenges and questions for parents, students and educators.

As of March 30, seven states have extended school closures through the rest of the academic year. But that doesn’t mean that students will have to repeat their current grade next year, as recent Facebook posts claim.   

Headlines being shared on the social media platform range from "All Pennsylvania kids to repeat their current grade" to "NC governor will require students to repeat their current grade" to "Students might have to repeat a grade according to President Trump."

These and other, similar posts were flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

The links in these posts lead to similar pages: sites that say you got pranked. 

Amid fear and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, that punchline is lost online as people worry that their "babies can’t graduate kindergarten." 

The pandemic has, of course, disrupted education. A recent story in the Atlantic says "it’s not clear what will happen" if school closures last several months or even a year. In the case of an extended closure, "some students might have to repeat grades when school recommenced, resulting in entire regional cohorts of students who would be older than their classmates nationally for the rest of their lives," the story says. 

In Florida, according to a story in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, parents and educators can work together to decide whether a student should repeat a grade if parents are worried about their child missing so much school this year. 

But there have been no blanket directives on a state or federal level that we could find requiring kids to repeat their current grade.

We rate these Facebook posts Pants on Fire.


Our Sources

Facebook post, March 27, 2020

Prank web pages, visited March 31, 2020

Newsweek, Seven states in the U.S. have now extended school closures for the rest of the year, March 30, 2020

Education Week, Map: coronavirus and school closures, updated March 30, 2020

NPR, The biggest distance-learning experiment in history: week one, March 26, 2020

The Atlantic, What could happen if the coronavirus closed schools for days, weeks, or even months, March 8, 2020

Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Coronavirus Florida: DOE gives answers to some questions, March 20, 2020

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Don’t fall for these hoaxes about students having to repeat their grade

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