NEA and National PTA report on students reflects resiliency and outlines recommendations.
Noah Gaddy is a 15-year-old high school student in Baltimore County, Maryland, whose school day is entirely virtual. He feels the loss of the face-to-face feedback and support from his classroom educators. A student athlete, he also misses his teammates, competition, and the social interaction of sports. And, his mom says, he misses girls.
“Memories our children should be creating aren’t possible right now,” says Noah’s mother Pam Gaddy, a 24-year social studies teacher and mother of four. “It takes a toll. But as an educator, I know my children, and my students, are resilient. As adults we’re not giving them enough credit for that.”
As the debate over whether or not students should attend school for in-person instruction rages on among school administrators, policy makers, families, and the medical and scientific communities, the noise has all but drowned out the voices of the students themselves.
This generation of young people has experienced profound disruption to their lives and their learning. But if we just stop and take a moment to listen, we can better determine how to help them get back on track.
“I feel like a Zoom Zombie.” “I used to get better grades before the virus and now I am stressed out.” “My dad took a hefty pay cut and has less in-person work.” “I don’t have friends to talk to.” “I got sick. My mom, too. It was hard because hospital payments were so high.” “I wish it would end and go back to normal again.”
These are the voices of students, ages 13 to 18, in grades 7 through 12, who participated in an NEA and National PTA research study to gauge what they felt were the most pressing issues facing them during the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis.
“Today’s research will tell you a story of the impact of this pandemic on students from an academic, social, and economic standpoint,” said NEA President Becky Pringle in a joint NEA-PTA press call releasing the findings. “The research we did together looks at a cross-section of middle and high school students who, while faced with unprecedented challenges, have demonstrated an extraordinary resilience in the face of the pandemic.”