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Perspectives from the Field: A Teacher’s Take on the Continuous Challenges of COVID-19

February 24, 2022

With final exams for most high school students concluding last month, members of the CTRC team sat down with a secondary school teacher from within the Regina area to discuss the difficulties students and teachers have experienced due to continuous uncertainty from COVID-19; specifically the “5th wave” caused by the Omicron variant.

Although it seems like we have figured out how to best normalize the situation the pandemic has brought us, everything is still in continuous redevelopment in regards to education. It stands to reason that those transitioning from elementary to highschool and those in grade twelve this year have been most affected by the pandemic. This is because there has been more change in structure and expectations for these two groups – students graduating from grade 12 this year have only ever experienced high school through the lens of the pandemic, and with resilience many have adapted in ways where they seem better adjusted than their peers both older and younger. This is a nice positive to have when the fear still remains for teachers that those mentioned to be strongly affected may be “up to a full grade-level behind in some areas”. With the pandemic and its effect on schools showing no signs of going away, it is continuously difficult for teachers to help those they know may be falling behind. This becomes no easier when teachers are seeing that “regular attendance has continued to drop” for a variety of reasons.

However, the increase in absences isn’t the only thing teachers are noticing. The teacher voiced that, “there has been a noticeable change in social interactions within the classrooms and the halls”. It’s not just the communication between students that has been affected, the masking mandates have also, according to this teacher, hurt the interpersonal relationships between teachers and students. This leaves teachers in a position where “[they] can spend a whole year with some youth but still won’t be able to recognize some outside of school”. It was important for this teacher to note that although most seem to suffer from these changes, “those students with more introverted tendencies seem to enjoy the veil the mask provides”, citing that some students who normally don’t speak aloud in class are now “more willing to answer questions and have their voice heard when called upon”. Despite these concerns, the issues stemming from dips in attendance and remote learning seem to be the hardest hitting.

Despite the difficulties mentioned, teachers have worked extremely diligently to address the challenges the pandemic has presented and have been able to adapt. For some that means changing back and forth from online to remote teaching on short notice, or proactively creating course plans to meet new needs that arise. The biggest takeaways from our conversation with this educator was that teachers have seen the impact COVID-19 has had on education and the changes seen as a result have strongly influenced educators’ views on in-person learning. Despite fears associated with the pandemic, this teacher has noted an overwhelming and continuous push to have education take place in a traditional classroom format.

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Nathalie Reid, PhD
Director
Phone: 306-585-4543
CTRC, University of Regina
Phone: 306-585-4723; Email: CTRC@uregina.ca