By: Kevin Guevara, Class of 2022
During the last two years students, teachers, and parents have had to make an equal effort in picking up the pace and closing the gap from remote to in-class courses. For students that left for quarantine as middle school students and came back as high school students there were growing worries among parents and administrators. Not only would education be impacted but social behavior would take time to adjust as well.
Freshman high school students who are just now moving to their sophomore year in Fall of 2022 would be having the most difficult times since there was so much to make up from this last year. COVID-19 restrictions set by Jersey City’s Board of Education are the lowest they have ever been since we first came back from quarantine so it would be interesting to see how much has changed for students and teachers.
Nicholas Weimmer, a physics teacher from Dickinson High School located in Jersey City, was able to touch on a few topics regarding his experience coming back from the pandemic.
In the interview he mentions that the school advocates putting aside time for students’ mental well-being.
“Mental health…I want to see this entire country do better.”
Another aspect he said students and teachers had to deal with was that both parties got too comfortable with the idea of anonymity over zoom.
“That isolation for some of them got real comfortable with it, just like adults I say.”
Later he stated that while students have a 2-year gap in education there is a steep learning curve that can be plateaued if teachers are willing to bring it back to the basics and move forward from there.
For specific fields like hard science, as he describes it, remote education is futile when it comes to courses like physics, biology, or chemistry since there is a lot of hands-on learning that was not available when remote. Students are essentially in an awkward stunted phase with freshman teachers having to deal with students who are entering the building with 6th or 7th grade math skills since that was around the time quarantine had begun for them.
Misbehavior is a common issue as well, Weimmer states that every young teenagers develop at a different pace, and some teens will grow faster than others. However a main concern is not dealing with behavioral issues, but rather the short staff of substitute teachers, security, and coverage for other classes.
Weimmer goes out of his way to help students who need the extra help during his lunch so he is used to giving his free time during his lunch if it means catching a student up with material.
The entire United States has seen a shortage of staff in education, the National Education Association states that the ratio of hires to job openings is at an all-time low in education. In the 2021-2022 school year for every job opening only 0.57 hires are made on average. A Brown University research study found that math test scores from grades 3-8 in Fall 2021 which were 0.2-0.27(around 25%) standard deviations below the average score in comparison to Fall 2019. Reading scores were down by 0.09-0.18 Standard deviations from average of those two years as well.