COVID-19 has had a profound impact on learning, especially in younger grades

COVID-19 has brought a profound impact on student learning over the past year-and-a-half, especially for younger grades.

"Teachers for the younger age group are seeing that more on the social side," said Oxford Learning director Lorelei Burgess, who added reading and academics are not the only areas of concern. "More so, the children's ability to learn, to sit and focus to instruction."

Many students have struggled and fallen behind academically. Burgess said teachers faced a near nightmare scenario, to come up with strategic and coherent teaching plans in unstable environments.

"They have gone from in-person teaching, to online teaching to in-person teaching and in some cases back to online teaching, when the schools have closed," said Burgess.

Brittany Amber said the pandemic exposed inequities in the education system. Amber's daughter in Grade 2 takes French immersion.

"She hasn't had consistency in learning French," said Amber. "Without that consistency and being in a home that speaks English, it has been a challenge for her to absorb and learn the language at a level that immersion requires."

South of the border, the federal government is now focusing its energy on a new strategy that targets the mental health and well-being of students.

"We must make sure that will be social and emotional well-being is part of the program," said U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. "And that we provide educators with the training to best support our students."

Burgess agreed with this approach.

"I really do believe that the mental health impact for both teachers and students is going to be significant," said Burgess, who also predicted the educational fallout from COVID-19 would last for years to come.