The 2021-22 school year appears to be the most “normal” since before the pandemic. As a student who attended a public institution from Kindergarten to Grade 12 during this time, I am familiar with all the learning difficulties associated with a pandemic.
Lucky for me, COVID-19 started in the second semester of my senior year, which meant I had already completed most of my credits. Academically speaking, I didn’t miss too much. Socially speaking, I still don’t think I’ve fully recovered.
But elementary school students have suffered significant losses with distance learning.
But this responsibility, although it weighs heavily on many teachers, is not fairly compensated. We need to look to our teachers for advice on how to move forward and provide them with fair compensation for their expertise and hard work.
Coaching kids in class in person, let alone online, is hard enough. But for almost two years, kindergarten to grade 12 educators faced this reality.
Now like fewer schools in Utah offer online learning, we are seeing the effects of online schooling. A 2020 study found that 97% of teachers have observed different levels of learning loss in their students. The same study also found that 57% of teachers estimate that their students are at least three months behind in their socio-emotional growth.
With these frightening statistics in mind, we must also remember that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, especially for those who less than 12 years, who still cannot get vaccinated. For this reason, the delta variant poses a single risk to children.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported 1218 positive COVID-19 tests on August 31, which consisted of 270 Kindergarten to Grade 12 students. This meant that these students had to stay home for at least two weeks, putting them further behind than they already were.
In an interview with Brandon Moore, elementary school principal Robert Frost, he further illustrated what the pandemic has done to students beyond the numbers. Moore said: “Teachers had to go back and fill in a lot of loopholes that we wouldn’t want [have to] otherwise. Their reach, their sequence, and the speed at which they went through the program must have really slowed down. “
Elementary students are in a critical part of their psychological development. Being around children their own age, they learn life-long social skills that will impact them and their relationships. But, limited peer-to-peer interaction amid the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly delayed this development.
Moore said this has led to an influx of anxiety among students. “We’re seeing a lot of development where students are looking for reasons to get out of the classroom,” he said. “When we dig deeper, they’re actually suffering from social anxiety. They don’t feel comfortable being [in school] and they want to go home.
To help students be socially successful, Moore used his part of the $ 205 million given to Utah by the US Department of Education to ensure that his school’s social worker visits more frequently to help combat this anxiety.
Academically, Moore emphasized teaching in small groups to help students catch up – and research shows that his approach works. He said, “When we have our small group teaching, we can really identify the students who are struggling, the students who excel and the students in the middle. Then we can split them up and work with them, in a smaller setting. [This] allows our teachers to differentiate their teaching, to meet the needs of these specific students. Moore said he also used the money for extra classroom support to make this small group teaching possible.
While Moore believes that increased support both academically and emotionally will lead to progress, he said it has been difficult to find that support due to the shortage of manpower. “We can’t find people to hire. There is a shortage of people who want to work in schools.
And there are causes for this. Utah State Teaching Assistants Only Amaze $ 26,300 per year. To put it into perspective, those who receive unemployment benefits in Utah can receive up to $ 22,620 for 39 weeks. And teachers don’t earn much more on average only $ 56,401 per year. To fill the gaps created by the pandemic, we must listen to the educators themselves who best understand this problem. But if we don’t start paying them what they deserve, they won’t be there for us to listen to them.
The students in the public education system right now will one day be our future leaders. They will follow my generation in the fight against climate change, the impending technological catastrophe and other unknowns that our society will face.
We have a duty to prepare them for success, and educators will play a vital role in this endeavor. Let us listen to them, defend them and, above all, put a higher value on the instrumental work they do for the benefit of our society. The alternative is far too damaging not to be.