Education experts discuss pandemic effects on students amid EPISD homework freeze

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — From an abrupt end of the school year last spring to fully online school and now a pause on homework, educational experts weigh in on how the pandemic can have long-term effects on this generation of students.

The El Paso Independent School District recently announced a temporary freeze on most homework to minimize screen time and reduce stress as its students continue fully online schooling.

EPISD will begin to phase students back for in-person instruction on Oct. 1, with most expected to return by Oct. 19.

Dr. Alyse Hachey, lead faculty in Early Childhood Education at UTEP, said a pause on homework might be beneficial to students struggling with virtual learning, especially the younger ones.

“We are trying to make it as normal as possible, especially for our children, it’s just not normal, though,” Hachey said.

She said while many may be worried about students falling behind academically, she warns students’ social and emotional well-being are also at risk.

“It’s more important that children have that downtime at the end of the day, so they are ready to interact with the teacher the next day,” Hachey said.

She adds the stress from hours of virtual learning and being away from the traditional classroom setting, can cause students to fall behind.

“The virtual interactions are already different, they’re already different enough that when we’re going to keep it being different and extend it, we’re going to make your routine more difficult, more stressful, it takes the potential of them not being ready to learn again the next day,” Hachey said.

For parents worried about their children falling behind, Hachey suggests parents read together with their kids or play educational games.

“And then you go, ‘hey wait, look at that word — you know that word,’ you know what I mean? But it’s not homework, it’s sharing interaction, responsive relationship time,” Hachey said.

But some teachers feel homework is essential to education, especially now.

“Without it, I have to shorten my lesson and give a quick assignment or a quick assessment and that’s really not going to justify whether or not the students understand or not,” said Sandra Banales, a Henderson Middle School teacher.

At the lower grade level, an EPISD Pre-K teacher said parents need to help their children review material so they can retain what they learn.

“It could affect a lot of them a great lot because they’re memorizing things and they got to have that skill set in place and it needs to be reviewed,” Michael Malone said.

But something all educators agreed on, was that it is going to take some time for students, parents and teachers to get back into a routine again. However, they say with everyone’s cooperation, everyone will reach their goals.

“All of us teachers will say we will get your child to where they need to be, have a little faith, we might be behind, but we will get them to where they need to be,” Banales said.

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