Jacksonville psychologist explains potential long-term effects of online education

Jacksonville psychologist explains potential long-term effects of online education

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Two local school districts released their reopening plans to the public this week, St. Johns and Duval County.

In DCPS’s plan, parents will decide if they want to continue home-based education full time or allow their students to go back to the classroom part of the week.

A local psychologist explains the long-term effects this could have on a student’s academics.

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Duval County parents will have to decide if they should keep their students at home or allow them to go back to the classroom in the fall.

The Duval County Public School District released its reopening plan for the fall. It includes four different plans for grades K-12. Full plan can be found here.

Each program allows the option for face-to-face learning in a classroom or continue with virtual home-based education.

For Jacksonville mother, Annelyses Muniz, that means three different schedules for her four children.

“I’m glad that they’re attempting in-person school,” Muniz said. “I’m thankful that they’re going to let the kids go back. I think face-to-face interaction is so important.”

When deciding which direction to take, clinical and child psychologist Dr. Lynn Wadelton said parents should consider three variables.

“If you look at the technology and programming, are we ready,” Dr. Wadelton said. “Well, we weren’t ready because this was unexpected. Then, are the parents ready? Not all parents have the time or capability to do it. Especially if they have multiple children in their house. And the students themselves. What is their attention span, their motivation, their independence?”

Researcher said the shift to remote learning could set the average student back seven months academically, according to McKinsey analysis.

Dr. Wadelton said her concern with virtual learning is the lack of interaction.

“My main concern is depression because kids really do need to have interaction not just to be on devices,” Dr. Wadelton said. “The research says if people spend six hours a day on a device that they’re going to be depressed if they’re children.”

She said research on homeschooling in preparation for college is successful, however, parents more often have the time and focus to teach. Where the COVID-19 pandemic forced some parents into that position for the first time.

“Most parents who choose homeschooling are very education-focused and are really spending a lot of time providing a quality education program and maybe even have a background as a teacher,” Dr. Wadelton said. “So that’s really different than being thrown into the pandemic version of how are we going to do online learning.”

The benefits to virtual learning at home is less exposure to the virus. And students can work at their own pace. However, Dr. Wadelton said the best learning is interactive.

“As we look to design programs that are online, if they can make those programs more interactive and more engaging and suited to the attention span of the student,” Dr. Wadelton said.