How Did the Pandemic Affect Student Learning?


Steven S. Studying | Studying math | Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons — Attribution 2.0 Generic — CC BY 2.0

Erick Trejo, Staff Writer

Breaking news! The CDC has declared coronavirus a global pandemic! People panic, businesses close, and everyone scrambles to snag the last package of toilet paper available. While these events unfold, schools close and shift to online remote learning. Students, teachers, and staff are all faced with an assortment of new challenges. With the absence of in-person instruction and social interactions, many students witness an impact on their learning and well-being. This was our reality for the past few years, especially at Science Hill.

For many high school students that lived through the pandemic, learning from home was a struggle. Multiple Science Hill students express that their grades were impacted due to the pandemic. One junior at Science Hill, who has requested to remain anonymous, explains, “My grades tanked. I used to be an A student”. The same junior also shared that he had “a really hard time” getting assignments turned in on time, and he said, “It’s like [I have] no motivation anymore”. 

Brianna Keeler, another junior at Science Hill, also states that “as somebody that struggles with concentration” her grade in math “was greatly affected” by remote learning. She also explains that “Keeping full concentration on specifically one subject was overwhelming”. Evidently, concentration was a notable issue with remote learning, and Mrs. Miller, an Algebra 2 teacher, agrees with this sentiment. After being asked if she thought that students were less focused or motivated during the pandemic, she responded, “Focus was definitely a challenge for all students simply due to the many distractions presented at home”.

In addition to impacts on grades, many students were also affected by the lack of social interactions. For example, after being asked about missed opportunities, Brianna Keeler replied, “I did not get to have many stereotypical high school experiences with friends like going out, stuff like that. I missed out on a lot of dances and extracurricular activities”. She also added, “That affected my ability to stay more involved with the school”.

In response to the same question, Milind Chaturvedi, a senior at Science Hill, commented, “Teacher interactions, right? Those are important. Getting to talk to your teachers, asking questions, and just having a relationship with them is difficult when you’re online, so that’s definitely a big opportunity I missed out on”. However, students were not the only ones affected by the absence of social interactions.

When asked about challenges she faced with teaching during the pandemic, Mrs. Miller stated, “Perhaps the biggest challenge was student engagement during online instruction”. She continued, “I can usually tell if students are understanding by their facial expressions as well as visual cues (thumbs up, head nods, etc). With virtual learning, I no longer had that feedback to drive my lessons”.

Finally, students experienced health impacts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, after being asked about his well-being, Milind explained, “My health got worse”. He continued: “There was nothing making me go outside so there were some weeks where I don’t think I saw the sun”. On the other hand, while Milind spoke about the impacts on physical health, Brianna stressed the pandemic’s adverse effects on mental health.

Mr. Jarnigan. Photo credit: Jaelyn Fleenor.

In response to the same question, Brianna said, “I’d say that I was the happiest and most depressed in my entire life”. She also explained, “Being away from people that I loved really had an impact on my mental health”. Still relating to mental health, Mr. Jarnigan (pictured to the left), a counselor at Science Hill, said “the time that the students lost with their friends and in the classroom created such vast chaos in regards to emotions, learning, and relationships that everyone is still trying to make sense of it today though we do believe that things are improving as we continue to return to normalcy”.

The coronavirus pandemic has proven to be an unforeseen obstacle in the lives of many Science Hill students. The absence of in-person learning and social interactions produced impacts on grades, learning, and wellbeing. Each student’s experience through the pandemic was unique, and living through these unique challenges will forever be an integral part of the High School experience of those affected. As life returns to normalcy, Brianna mentions that she is ”going to clubs” and “getting back to that normal life we all lived”. For most, normalcy has returned, but is it here to stay?