School faculty discuss students return to the classroom after two partially online years

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Teachers are discussing the impacts online schooling has had on children’s mental health and social abilities and are thankful to be back in class in person.

Teachers say things are a little different for students who haven’t had a full year in person since the 2018-2019 school year, especially for the smaller children.

Some kids are still trying to adjust to five days straight of in person class.

One second grade teacher at Briarwood Elementary, Leslie Blaire, says the kids seem very happy to be together again, but she fears the possibility of returning to online schoolwork where some kids struggle to get the help they need.

She said it is a joy to love on and encourage the second graders in her class and believes they are all coping with the mask mandate very well.

“As a teacher I will do everything in my power to keep my children in school. I will wear my mask. I will wash my hands and encourage them to do so all day long, and we want to keep our children here. We know they learn best here so we are so glad that they’re here and in person. It’s been a great start to the year and every day is getting better,” said Blaire.

Mental health is another issue kids are struggling with more now than before the pandemic, according to Todd Hazel, the director of student services at Warren County Public Schools.

He said he and the schools are working to help the children feel comfortable and deal with the world’s climate right now through the pandemic.

School faculty hopes class stays in person as well so the kids can continue to be around one another.

Hazel said sometimes it is hard to see children’s facial expressions under their masks to read how they are doing and that is an obstacle teachers and counselors alike are working to deal with.

“I think that it’s gotten worse and to be honest with you, I think it’s going to take us a few years for the mental health side to recover to where we were pre-pandemic and dealing with anxiety, depression and with things that students have going on, not only missing out on their education as well,” said Hazel.

For now, schools are doing their best to remain open and to keep their students happy and healthy in a learning environment where they can grow and learn as a group rather than on an online individual basis.