Children’s health suffers during closures and distance learning

The consequences of isolation during the past year have been mental and physical.

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Fabian Mendoza-Toledo

The writer’s brother, Marcelo Mendoza-Toledo, accesses his second grade classroom at home during distance learning.

Fabian Mendoza-Toledo, Guest Writer

Have you ever complained about the negative health effects of being quarantined, making it all about yourself?  Or have you shown sympathy for your younger siblings, cousins, or neighbors missing out on the childhood you remember?

According to the CDC, the health consequences of quarantine are real among young people. “Beyond getting sick, many young people’s social, emotional, and mental well-being has been impacted by the pandemic. Trauma faced at this developmental stage can continue to affect them across their lifespan,” the CDC’s website states. 

I have seen the consequences of quarantine in my own family. For example, one of my siblings, 7-year-old Marcelo, has been in virtual learning since last March, and from what I see, he has been lacking in focus.

He listens to his second grade teacher for a good 10 minutes and then gets distracted easily with his toys and his tablet watching non-educational YouTube videos. Sometimes he even tries to be sneaky and avoid punishment by my parents and watches YouTube on his school-provided laptop.

Marcelo feels mixed emotions towards school this year. “School is boring on the computer. I want to see my friends,” Marcelo said.

Lack of focus is one of the biggest health consequences of quarantine. Not only does the lack of focus happen with my younger brother, but it also affects most students in my brother’s second grade class. Marcelo’s teacher notices that they gradually log out of the class, and then slowly come back into virtual learning. The teacher seems patient and doesn’t scold the students as she knows virtual learning is hard for the virtual students.

It’s not just young children whose health suffers. Some local high school students saw the negative consequences of quarantine.

Hayfield Secondary School junior Carlos Hennman notice his own physical health decline without regular activity during COVID.  “My physical health wasn’t in the best shape as it was before. I was very active because of soccer and it went down drastically,” Hennman said.

Lewis senior Alexis Ampong’s health suffered due to the isolation of the pandemic. “It affected my health a lot, I turned 18 when it first happened and I wasn’t able to do anything with my friends,” Ampong said.

Specifically, children’s health also suffers due to a lack of face-to-face socialization during the pandemic. We can only guess how children will readjust when life returns to normal.

Hennman believes that children will struggle with socialization when school’s return to full  capacity and businesses open completely. “I believe it will, “[Children] they have been behind a computer screen for a year. In that time they will start to forget how to socialize with friends and teachers,” Hennman said.

Senior Mohammed Noori believes that students will struggle in particular areas of instruction. “I believe the kids will struggle, especially speaking publicly,” Noori said.

Yet Ampong is optimistic. “I don’t think the children will lack socialization, they experienced something socializing out of their comfort zone to become smarter,”Ampong said.

When it comes to academics. Hennman mentions the students who continue to struggle to learn when classes are online. “I don’t think they will become smarter, a lot of kids learn better in person than virtually,” Hennman said.

Noori also is critical of the lack of learning that may have occurred during distance learning, really depends on how they experienced virtual learning, if the children slacked during virtual learning then I would say no,” Noori said.

Yet Ampong took a different approach to examining intelligence and viewed COVID closures as a learning opportunity for children. “I believe it will make them smarter, as it will make them more independent,” Ampong said.

 Interviewing these three students showed the impact Of COVID quarantines and distance learning on children and their learning abilities. How will children return to regular learning when the world returns to normal again? Maybe students will become smarter because they have already taken on more independence, developing their brains at a young age.