As the first official virtual semester comes to an end, the country reflects on the pandemic’s impact on education.
Most schools around the world frantically shut their doors at the first wave back in March of 2020. This left confused and scared students, teachers, and parents as the novelty of the pandemic showed uncertainty. Schools fell back onto a skeleton plan for a virtual semester with low tension zoom classes and virtual lectures and activities.
However, in the U.S., as the summer proved no signs of decrease in cases, schools were more prepared with plans on how online school would proceed. Though schooling was improved, reserch shows that the mental health of students of all ages have significantly decreased.
From the extremities of mental and physical ordeals, experts say that the recoveries of children would take a long time, longer than a year, mirroring consequences of natural disasters. Even with the uplifting vaccine news, a single shot will only prevent the disease but not its abstract repercussions.
Previously, the main concern of students was the social aspect, as being isolated for months took a heavy toll. Now, the semester brought upon academic conflicts as students struggled with focusing and staying motivated. This led to significantly lower averages on scores and increased absences.
NBC sources says that “the average student in grades 3-8 who took a math assessment this fall scored 5 to 10 percentile points behind students who took the same test last year, with Black, Hispanic and poor students falling even further behind” and that the number of students who missed more than 10% doubled in the past semester. Data also showed that 3 million homeless and disabled students were not in school at all.
The accumulating stress and lack of mental care has shown devastating results as no age group is spared. NBC reports “Emergency rooms have seen a 24 percent increase in mental health-related visits from children ages 5 to 11 compared to last year. The increase among older kids is even higher — 31 percent.”
Like the comparison between natural disasters, experts can confirm that suddenly opening school doors will not “turn frowns upside down:”. The road to recovery is long but it must be achieved.