The challenge of virtual learning.

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Author: Sandy L. Chung
Date: Aug. 2021
From: Contemporary Pediatrics(Vol. 38, Issue 8)
Publisher: Intellisphere, LLC
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,363 words
Lexile Measure: 1650L

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Conversations within families about school in the fall are occurring across the United States. It will be very important for pediatricians to focus on the concerns and challenges that children and adolescents will face as the nation returns to consistent in-person learning.

Certainly, schools are the places where children receive academic instruction and educational advancement, but they also play a hugely significant role in the ^ overall development and health of children and adolescents. Essential services are delivered in schools, including socioemotional skill building; physical/occupational/speech therapy; mental and behavioral health care; nutrition; safety; and physical activity.

As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic, during which time students have been in varying degrees of virtual learning, it will be critical that pediatricians and pediatric clinicians focus on how to address the health impact and developmental gaps that occurred. Unfortunately, disparities that existed prior to the pandemic were exacerbated by the disproportionate impact on learning for children who are Black, Latinx, American Indian/Alaska Native, or living in poverty, and for those who have disabilities. (1)

Without time, funding, and resources to prepare, virtual learning was not equitable despite concerted efforts to reach all students. The "digital divide" or technology gap was quite evident during the pandemic, with 15% of households with school-age children lacking an internet connection at home, according to the Pew Research Center. (2) The cost of internet connectivity disproportionately affected those with lower household incomes. The Government Accounting Office estimated in 2019 that nearly half of households with incomes less than $25,000 lacked internet access. Some studies estimate that more than 25 million family households did not have internet access during the pandemic. (3) This created challenges for equitable access to learning, especially for families who have multiple children, limited devices, and minimal to no internet access.

In a virtual learning environment, students miss opportunities to engage directly with teachers to receive additional help with classwork or homework. Teachers are less able to identify which students need special education supports or to identify children who need further...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A676131331