Remote Learning Is An Oxymoron

On Thursday, The Washington Free Beacon posted an article about the impact the closing down of our schools during Covid had on our children.

The article reports:

Remote learning had an even worse effect on U.S. students’ education than was previously known, new research shows.

K-12 students who attended school from home in the 2020-2021 school year lost 50 percent of their typical math curriculum learning, according to a Harvard study first reported by the New York Times. Even students who went back to school in fall 2020 lost 20 percent of their typical math curriculum learning due to pandemic disruptions in the spring. The learning disparities were the worst for poor, black, and Latino students, a gap that one of the study’s authors called “the largest increase in educational inequity in a generation.”

The schools were closed by the Teachers’ Unions. Many teachers were afraid of catching Covid from their students (a largely unfounded fear, but understandable at the beginning of the Covid crisis), and many teachers simply enjoyed teaching remotely from wherever they chose to be.  After scientists realized that children were neither major spreaders of the virus and generally not at high risk from complications from the virus, the schools should have reopened, but not all of them did.

The article notes:

“It’s pretty clear that remote school was not good for learning,” Emily Oster, a Brown University economist and the coauthor of a similar study, told the Times. Oster was one of the first to sound the alarm about the danger of school closures. In October 2020, she wrote a piece for the Atlantic, “Schools Aren’t Superspreaders,” which argued the risk of COVID spread in schools was overblown.

Children are at low risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19. In-school transmission is also “extremely rare,” according to a 2021 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“In places where schools reopened that summer and fall, the spread of COVID was not noticeably worse than in places where schools remained closed,” the Times‘s David Leonhardt wrote on Thursday. “Schools also reopened in parts of Europe without seeming to spark outbreaks.”

The article concludes:

Students who suffered the greatest learning losses were often in districts that succumbed to powerful teachers’ unions and Democratic officials who fought to keep schools closed. Schools in the poorest areas on average stayed remote five weeks longer than affluent areas.

As late as March this year, Chicago Public Schools, in coordination with its teachers’ union, was implementing at-home learning periods for classes after COVID exposures. Additionally, any school could flip to remote learning provided at least 30 percent of teachers were absent for at least two days or at least 40 percent of students were told to quarantine by the city’s health department.

Let’s hope that the damage done to the ‘children of Covid’ can be undone by the time they reach high school.

What Have We Done To Our Children?

On Monday, The Epoch Times posted an article about the effect the the restrictions implemented to control the coronavirus has had on our children.

The article reports:

The research, led by Professor Sharon Goldfield identified three broad areas of issues that need intervention: the child level, family level and at the service level.

Academically, remote learning has resulted in compromised student engagement, particularly in children already facing difficulties or belonging to families where parents have a lower level of educational attainment.

The authors wrote that “almost half of the Australian student population risks having their learning severely compromised due to COVID-19-related school closures, either because they are an early year’s student or are experiencing adversity.”

Reduced physical activity and increased screentime can also affect children’s lifestyle and physical health. In a longitudinal study conducted during the pandemic for Australia and 13 other countries, children on average had 55 more minutes of screen time per day and 81 minutes less per day for weekday outdoors activities.

At the service level, school closures due to the pandemic have affected children that needed the healthcare facilitated by the school such as free lunches and mental health care. The authors reported that “referrals to child mental health services reduced substantially, before an unprecedented rise that placed increased demand on already overstretched services.”

Amongst parents, some parents also reported the impact the pandemic has had on their mental health. A poll (pdf) conducted by the Royal Children’s Hospital had 46 percent of parents reporting that the pandemic had a negative impact on their mental health. However, the same poll also reported that 75 percent of parents felt their families were closer, and 42 percent said they are more connected to their child since the pandemic.

There have been other negative results from the masking requirements. Many people involved in education believe that children wearing masks and dealing with adults wearing masks are not able to grasp the visual ques that normally are part of their learning. A child looking at a masked adult is not really able to see a smile or an approving look. There is also the fact that children have never been a high-risk group for the coronavirus. We may have unintentionally slowed down the learning curve for the majority of American children during the past two years. Hopefully the children can quickly go back to normal learning and leave the masks behind.

Symbolism Over Substance

Yesterday WRKO AM 680 posted an article about a recent directive from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The article reports:

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is taking seriously Gov. Tony Evers’ order that everybody in the state must wear a mask while indoors. The department sent out an email to employees reminding them of the order, which took effect on August 1.

In addition to wearing masks while working at DNR facilities or in the field, Natural Resources Secretary Preston Cole told employees they should also wear one while on video conference calls, even if they are home alone.

Are they afraid the computers will catch the virus? Seriously, this is an employer attempting to control the actions of employees while the employees are in their own homes. That sets an awful precedent.

The article continues:

“Also, wear your mask, even if you are home, to participate in a virtual meeting that involves being seen — such as on Zoom or another video-conferencing platform — by non-DNR staff,” Cole wrote, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Set the safety example which shows you as a DNR public service employee care about the safety and health of others.”

The agency said they want their employees to set an example to others and demonstrate how vital it is to wear a mask in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

“By wearing a mask while video conferencing with the general public, we visually remind folks that masking is an important part of navigating the business of natural resources during this tumultuous time,” DNR spokeswoman Megan Sheridan told McClatchy News.

She also said that the agency is concerned that screen grabs of high-ranking employees not wearing masks could be misconstrued to insinuate that they are not following the governor’s order.

On August 7th, The Hill reported the following:

An Illinois school district is cracking down on remote learning dress codes, disallowing students from wearing pajamas while attending online classes.

The Springfield Public Schools Board of Education approved the district’s new handbook this week, which applies in-person dress codes to remote learning settings, NBC News reported.

“We don’t need students in pajamas and all those other things while on their Zoom conference,” Director of School Support Jason Wind said during a virtual school board meeting on Monday.

Does anyone else feel that this is a bit intrusive? I really don’t like the idea of any government agency trying to control what I wear or don’t wear in my own home.