Early reports one year after COVID-19 point to measurable learning loss, as well as racial and socioeconomic disparities. Kaaren Tamm, whose four-year-old daughter struggled with virtual learning, says, “There was no learning going on at all.” Professor says, “We need to mobilize more — everything we can — to help teachers deal with this crisis.” “The real wave will be that we’ll wake up in two, three years and see that we have more social inequality,” he predicts. According to the professor, the pandemic has had numerous negative effects on emotional, physical, social, and mental health.
Early readers in Grades 1, 2, and 3 are struggling to read at grade level, according to Alberta researcher George Georgiou. He claims that many students are still performing six to eight months below grade level. It’s possible that those who struggled have improved and will finish the school year on par with their peers. But, as Georgiu points out, this is contingent on timely, targeted interventions. According to Sarah Barrett of York University, this puts enormous pressure on teachers, many of whom are already burned out. She claims that teachers are unsure how children will ever catch up on pandemic-prohibited social skills.
Teachers were most concerned about students with special needs, those who were poor, students who were racialized or Indigenous, and English-language learners. According to Julie Garlen, benchmarks are socially constructed targets that can be changed. Changing academic requirements, however, carries risks, according to Peter D’Angiulli. Prachi Srivastava, an education expert, would like to see efforts focused on high-risk neighborhoods and schools. However, according to a Western Ontario education expert, structural barriers make widespread reform difficult. “It actually demonstrates how myopic we have been in terms of understanding in Canada.”
When seeking solutions, Garlen advises policymakers to consult with families and students. The pandemic exposed long-standing educational inequities, which were exacerbated by the threat of COVID-19. Some families are more likely than others to live in overcrowded housing or have intermittent access to the internet.
News and picture source: The Canadian Press