COVID-19 and Kids: Why Getting Sick isn’t the Only Thing Teachers and Students Need to Worry About

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NORTH CANTON, Ohio — Nervous, scared, vaccines, people dying …  words that came to mind for second graders asked about COVID-19.

The primary concern of these students’ pre-pandemic was what time lunch was, but with the growing number of COVID-19 cases found in children ages 5-11, there is a much more these students and their teachers are thinking about.

Elementary school teachers have seen how the pandemic has changed the way they teach, and they recognize that their students’ physical health isn’t the only thing they need to consider. Some areas also affected by the pandemic include:

  • The child’s emotional well-being
  • The social impact of separation 
  • Absences due to quarantining causing students to fall behind
  • Apprehension of teachers unable to enforce social-distancing guidelines

Social/Emotional Abilities

Brittany Sheets is a second-grade teacher at Clearmount Elementary.

“For second graders, their kindergarten year is when COVID happened, so they haven’t had a normal school year at all,” she said. “Some of them are learning how to interact with people for the first time. That coupled with the learning that needs to be done in second grade, is a lot for both students and teachers to handle.”

Falling Behind on Schoolwork

Second grade teacher teaching students in small quarters that don't allow for social distancing
Students Brady Kinsey and Chloe Lewis sporting their masks while working on their math problems.

Sheets said she also understood that since the pandemic, students have missed out on lessons because many had to spend weeks at home in quarantine. 

“Kids are out for 14 days, so you don’t want to move too fast. I can’t possibly teach everything I’ve taught in past years, and that makes me worried that they will not know everything they need to when they go on to third grade.” she sai.

Teachers Cannot Enforce Social Distancing

With an average class size of 22 students, it has become impossible to keep students at the recommended 10-feet of separation, a problem made worse as there is no mask mandate for students.

Brittany Sheets teaching in her crowded classroom .
Brittany Sheets teaching the students in her crowded classroom.

“There are too many children to keep them apart from each other,” she said. “I have 24 students, and there is no way to socially distance them even 5 feet, so it’s just not happening. Now that masks aren’t enforced, I worry that I can’t protect them.”

Almost everyone knows someone affected by this virus, and as cases in younger children rise, Sheets and her colleagues say they are just now beginning to understand how much this virus will affect their young students.