How virtual learning has taken a toll on all students

 Without regular social interaction and direct contact and attention from teachers, parents witness their children with developmental challenges lose years of progress in the midst of virtual learning.

   During the pandemic, children and teens have faced many obstacles, such as the lack of a routine, isolation from friends and extended family, and anxiety due to uncertainty of what will happen in the future. Being away from school for so long has certainly taken a toll on adolescents, but many students have been able to adapt with support from parents, guidance counselors, resources from the World Health Organization (WHO), and community groups in order to cope with the rapid change in their lives.

   But for those with learning disabilities, physical impairments, and developmental challenges, going to a physical school building is so crucial to maintaining the progress they have made thus far. Going to school is more than just getting an education. Schools provide vital one-on-one support, unique aids and tools, and perhaps most importantly a space to improve social skills and feel a sense of community. 

   That said, many schools have been working tirelessly to make the changes needed in their special education programs to be effective in an online setting. In Wake county, the public school system has provided an extra resource for collaborative planning for online instruction for students in special education. WCPSS has provided parent training videos, real time live feedback to parents, and other caregivers during online learning and teletherapy. 

   At Broughton, teachers want to emphasize the importance of supporting all students through virtual learning and how they and the administration have been making it their top priority. The special education department at Broughton commented on this issue. 

   “The county’s effort to supply students with Chromebooks and hotspots has been extraordinary. Also, the dedication of the teachers and administration at Broughton to ensure our students are up and running is extended to not just special education students, but all students. We have teachers, counselors, and administrators who are doing home-visits to help families connect and to check on a student’s absence and well-being. With virtual learning, there seem to be more obstacles facing all students, including access to space, the number of students in the household, parent work schedules, comfort with technology, and burn out from screen time,” the department writes in a statement. 

   While operating in less than ideal circumstances, teachers and administrators are doing their absolute best to support, inspire, and look out for all of their students.