Distance learning again? How to help the children of NJ cope
Some New Jersey school districts will start the New Year in distance learning mode, due to significant transmission of COVID-19 in their school buildings or the threat of an epidemic. And there are fears that many more will have to follow suit once students return to school after winter break and interact in person after potential exposure to the virus at holiday gatherings.
Schools and their staff are better prepared to run lessons on video conferencing platforms than they were last spring, but it remains to be seen how students would cope with the return to a virtual world of learning.
“I have to be in class, not on a computer,” Monmouth County college student Jeannie Tamarone told New Jersey 101.5. “But if we have to go back online for school, that’s what I’ll do – I have no choice.”
The New Jersey Department of Health reported 7,716 new cases of COVID-19 among students during the week ending December 19, as well as 2,092 cases among school staff, with less than two-thirds of schools reporting during this week.
“I think we need to be more careful that there may be children who are going to have a hard time,” Maurice Elias, professor of psychology at Rutgers University, said of returning students. from a distance. “There are kids who have a really hard time concentrating without adult help – it’s easier for teachers to get children’s attention live than when they’re on Zoom.”
Elias noted that children’s mental health is better when they are with their peers; this interaction essentially disappears in an online classroom. But I hope the return to distance learning is an extremely temporary situation, not another multi-month ordeal like the one that was started at the start of the pandemic in New Jersey, he said.
Parents can improve their children’s situation, he added, by having a positive attitude, even if they think the distance learning setup is less than ideal.
“If we walk around saying, ‘Oh my God, this is going to be terrible for the mental health of the children,’ we will create a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Elias said. “Children reflect what they hear at home.”
Ahead of the winter break, a number of districts have informed parents that the children will be returning in 2022 in a distant format, at least temporarily. The South Orange & Maplewood School District, for example, is keeping everyone out of schools until January 10, to protect the health of staff and students.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at [email protected]
Where the NJ’s ‘red wave’ from the 2021 election was redder
In 2017, Governor Phil Murphy won the election with 14.1 percentage points, a margin exceeding 303,000. His re-election was much closer, a victory of 84,000 votes and 3.2 points. He and others have spoken of a “red wave” of Republican voters in the electorate, and the certified results show which counties turned red the most.