Schools seeing increase in classroom disruptions as students return to full in-person learning

Outbursts and tardiness increased the most, according to national data
Outbursts and tardiness increased the most, according to national data(WDBJ7)
Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 6:05 PM EDT
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(WDBJ) - For many schools across the Commonwealth, this is the first year of full-in person learning. But some school districts are facing an increase in classroom disruptions after students were online for two and a half years.

Recent data from the National Institute of Education Sciences indicate students are returning to the classroom with increased feelings of stress and anxiety from the pandemic.

An assistant professor of psychology at Roanoke College explained how the pandemic has impacted children’s developmental skills.

“It really caused, apart from just stress, disruption, change in schedule, and stress in home life,” Danielle Findley-Van Nostrand said. “It also caused a lot of social isolation.”

84% of public schools across the country report classroom behavior has gotten worse since returning to in-person learning.

An assistant professor of psychology and the director of the Child Studies Center at Virginia Tech conducted two studies on children’s mental health during the pandemic. The studies found there can be a link between children’s mental health and their classroom performance.

“There’s been kind of this added toll of disruptions to student learning and students are performing behind where they were pre-pandemic,” Rosanna Breaux said. “We’re also seeing things like increases in inattention symptoms and having a hard time focusing or paying attention to school work.”

The disruption data can range from physical fights to disrespecting teachers. The data show outbursts in the classroom and tardiness increased the most from the ongoing pandemic.

The chief learning officer of Bedford County Public Schools explained how there’s been a slight increase in disruptions among younger students.

“I think last year we saw a little bit of an uptick in children who had not been to school to learn those skills,” Karen Woodford said. “Our kindergartners, our first graders, younger students who may have been at home with their parents for the last two years.”

Educators explained there are some lessons taught in person that are harder to translate to an online format.

“We had to teach them social skills and how to interact in the environment,” Woodford said.

Students lost out on some of those social skills for the last two and a half years.

“They need to be face-to-face so they can build relationships, because if your relationship is only through a video camera or you’re online all of the time, you don’t learn how to be part of a society,” Woodford said.

Districts like Bedford County Public Schools are taking students mental health into account for the upcoming school year.

“We as teachers and we as educators need to understand their feelings because we’re mature adults who have developed the skills to know how to interact appropriately,” Woodford said. “These students don’t fully develop those skills until they’re 25.”

Educators and experts explained open communication between families, students and teachers will help prevent classroom disruptions.

“I think sometimes we just need to be able to sit down and just have a conversation with kids about how was your day and let them be who they are,” Woodford said. “Don’t try to brush off their feelings.”

Bedford County Public School’s first day of in person learning is Monday, August 15.

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