2020 was a unique year as the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic placed a new set of challenges in the learning environment. Prior to the pandemic, school districts were faced with helping students overcome barriers to hearing, now those barriers have been exacerbated with physical distancing, facial masks, and remote learning.
Translating speech to learning is a complicated issue for children. Because their auditory brain does not fully develop until age 15, their brains aren’t able to fill in gaps to words they don’t hear clearly like adults can.
Recalling a recent experience in a grocery store, Dr. Carrie Spangler, Au.D., CCC-A, found herself unable communicate with a grocery clerk wearing a mask without a tool she’s relied on throughout her life: the ability to read speech and facial cues.
Even before the COVID-19 era, getting children outdoors on a regular basis was recognized as contributing to the students’ mental health, happiness and overall well-being, in addition to high student engagement and test scores, especially as more people live in urban communities.
After emergency closures sent schools and families scrambling to cobble together distance learning schedules last spring, schools across the nation are reformulating for the coming school year – whether students return the classroom, continue learning from home, or a combination of the two.