With summer break approaching, educators are concerned about the long-term effects of pandemic schooling.

Schools in pandemic
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‘Not just teachers, but students are emotionally, physically, and mentally drained,’ says a British Columbia teacher.

After an uncertain and nervous first full school year under the COVID-19 pandemic, many Canadian educators admit they are behind on their teaching and are concerned about longer-term effects on student learning with just a few weeks before summer vacation.

More than 50,000 education staff in nearly 200 school districts across eight provinces received a questionnaire from the media house, which was sent to their public email addresses. The aim was to see how educators and students are dealing with the pandemic’s many changes, from mask-wearing and other public health regulations to condensed high school schedules and abrupt transitions to remote learning.

Nearly 9,500 teachers, support staff, principals, and other school personnel who work with elementary and secondary students replied. They gave feedback on a variety of subjects, including students meeting learning goals, absenteeism, and required vaccinations.

Almost three-quarters of the teachers who replied said they were behind on their curriculum coverage. In comparison to a non-pandemic year, about 55% of teachers said fewer students are achieving learning goals this year.

“Completing the curriculum was always a challenge before COVID, and now it’s ten times more difficult,” said Ramandeep Sangha, a high school teacher in Surrey, B.C., which has been hit especially hard by the pandemic.

“[Teachers] are exhausted from having to constantly think on our feet when a new problem occurs, which, to be frank, happens all the time. We’ve had [COVID-19] exposures, and I’ve grown numb to them.”

Many teachers, according to Sangha, are struggling to complete the curriculum and teach effectively in the face of changing school conditions while also paying close attention to students’ mental wellbeing.

“I’m frequently discouraged. This year, I’ve broken down and cried several times “she said “It’s not about the teachers who are emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted; it’s also the students.”

Around 70% of teachers said they believe any students would not be able to keep up academically. And nearly all of them agree that the difficulties of this pandemic school year would have a psychological effect on certain students.

Meanwhile, educators are concerned about how this year will impact teachers. More than 80% of principals and vice-principals who responded to the survey said teacher burnout is a major concern for them.