Experts: Continuing virtual learning may have negative long-term effects on students

There is some concern about the long-term effects of virtual learning if children do not return to school.
Students have not been inside of a classroom since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The rest of the school year was conducted virtually. And some medical and education experts say that this could have a negative effect on the students.
“I’m seeing higher rates of anxiety, higher rates of depression,” says pediatrician Dr. S. Amna Husain.
Husain says that the quick move to online learning coupled with a degree of social isolation is taking its toll and could have lasting effects on some children.
“The longer we sort of prolong our children kind of staying out of school or not getting that face-to-face time, they fall further and further behind,” she says. “It gets harder to catch up and we may face higher dropout rates, you know, 5-10 years down the line from now.”
Having to share technology among family members or living in homes where English may not be the primary language are just some of the challenges that students have had to face while going to school online. Husain says that experts speculate that children have fallen about a third of the way behind in their school year.
“The real fact is that there are racial disparities there that Hispanic communities, Black communities, may have fallen further behind,” she says.
But there are some ways to help these children. For parents who may be teaching their children in September, Husain says that identifying a space where everyone can do their work most effectively and creating a daily schedule can have a positive effect.
Cedar Grove High School Principal Rich Mangill says that there may be some adjustments in his school as well.
“Usually when the school year starts, you’re starting off with a couple of weeks of review…I think that review is going to have to be a little longer coming up this year and a little more in-depth for the kids,” he says.
But Mangill says that despite the changes, he is confident that teachers will find a way to close any learning gaps in the new school year.