Thanks to the COVID vaccine, the light is on at the end of the tunnel, but it’s still a long way off and for many kids that translates into more on and off again remote instruction, with mental health and more on the chopping block…

Turns out that 39% of districts have replaced snow days with remote instruction going forward; 32% more are considering it, according to a recent EdWeek Research Center survey.

About that, says Lisa Rizzo, Mahwah School District’s director of special services: “Virtual learning has become the norm for many students this school year and will likely persist beyond the pandemic. But we recognize the pandemic has robbed our students of the normal rites of passage: normal prom, typical graduation, even the way children enjoy the first day of school with the obligator photograph on the steps outside the school building.”

The district’s superintendent Dennis Fare put it this way: “Really, we could all use that surprise phone call right now. That excitement is needed not just for our children, but very much for our adults who are working really hard.”

As for remote learning’s impact on the mental health of both kids and their students, said Rachel Prince, a Horizon High School teacher, “I didn’t really realize how deeply depressing and difficult it is to talk to a grid of squares. It started out as, ‘Oh, look! This’ll be kind of fun. Then it very quickly slipped into trying so hard every day to bolster kids’ feelings. I didn’t realize how much I needed to see other people. There have been days where, at the end of the day, I just lay my head on my desk and cry.”

Meanwhile, according to the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, of all the emotions teachers are feeling during the pandemic—anxiety, fear, worry, overwhelmedness, and sadness, anxiety led the pack.

Says developmental psychologist Frank Infurna, “Over time, this is something that [will] wear people down. It really shows how much people crave and need human connection, even if it’s just in-person classes.”

In fact, he’s gone so far as to say that this remoteness could well result in “an unhealthy aging process.”

Just give a listen to this:

  • Says Dr. Jared Vagy: “Definitely low back pain and neck pain are two of the most common posture injuries from non-ergonomic sitting.” (In other words, slouching)
  • And warns Dr. Steven Rhee, “Digital eye strain can cause irritation, headaches, and general irritation since you [kids and adults, alike] are focusing up close for long periods of time.” And he adds, “Over a long time, digital eye strain can change a person’s vision.”

Meanwhile, researchers at the Center of Research for Education Outcomes at Stanford University studied NWEA test scores for students in 17 states and D.C. and found that the average student…

  • Lost a third to a full-year’s worth of learning in reading.
  • Lost about 75% to more than a year in math since schools closed in June.

As the center’s director put it, “Kids are going feral. Thousands of them are unaccounted for, with no contact since schools have closed”

Says it all… ~ Carol