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The Pandemic Effect on Education

The Unexpected Shift
There is no question the global pandemic has impacted student learning across the United States. A small percentage of schools were already engaging their students virtually and incorporated electronic devices in the daily school atmosphere. These schools were in place to seamlessly transition seamlessly to virtually instruction and their students did not suffer significantly in their education. Yet many schools staggered under the weight and the unexpected shift from direct in class instruction to virtual instruction. The data collected in the Annual Charter Schools Report shows 9.25% of charter schools are at-risk for academic failure.

The Rally for Education Is On
Many charter schools rallied quickly during the pandemic to put electronic devices to students and to provide the internet through hot spots for students.
With virtual instruction as the only method of education, many schools offered direct or synchronous instruction as well as asynchronous instruction. Synchronous instruction is live instruction online. Asynchronous instruction is instruction given through forms such as pre-recorded instruction, reading assignments, and discussion boards.  Many schools incorporated hybrid learning. As an Exceptional Children’s teacher, I would often give my students assignments or tasks from the daily lesson to complete. Once completed, we would gather online to discuss and share reflections or engage in discussion.  

An Increase in Social- Emotional Learning
Another response to the pandemic schools and staff targeted is Social- Emotional Learning (SEL).  I firmly believe without the SEL consideration for students during the pandemic, learning would be that much more difficult. The pandemic and the uncertainly of living to see the next day brought emotions to the surface. Students’ daily routines were disrupted and their positive peer interactions were eliminated. Students were relegated to seeing each other across the computer screen. Both adults and students needed social emotional strategies to implement to manage the emotions each encountered. Managing emotions  effectively is needed for students to problem solve and navigate difficulties that occur in life. SEL became paramount during the pandemic and teachers were on the front lines. Many teachers established check-ins with students to gauge their emotional health and general wellness. Emojis used along with technology such as Google Forms, Pear Deck, and Nearpod allowed for real time emotional assessments before learning. SEL lessons were implemented school-wide and especially within the Exceptional Children’s sector. Teachers took the lead bravely offering targeted help to students, tutoring services, and making a point and effort to check in with families. I recall a teacher motivating her Kindergarten class (virtually) and provided pizza dinners for class participation.
The 2021-2022 school year is the first school year the majority of students were in the building full-time.  Students spent this year becoming accustomed to sitting in classes, participating, actively listening and being engaged, completing assignments, and interacting with each other socially. All the while wearing masks, socially distancing, and engaging in their grade level content.

End of Year Testing & Accountability
The 2021-2022 school year saw students taking EOG’s and yearly assessments for the first time in two years.  Thus proving it difficult for schools to assess the educational data necessary to pinpoint and target areas student need improvement in. During the pandemic many of these tests were on hold because the validity and integrity of these tests could not be maintained in the virtual setting. Many schools performed the necessary actions to ensure students received their  necessary accommodations.

Another Rally to Close Educational Gaps
Schools are once again rallying  to decrease the educational gaps and increase testing scores. Parents are looking for professionals to help their students make educational strides.