Distance learning forces elementary schools to reimagine school year


Julianna Oliver

A young elementary school student doing his daily independent work.

Julianna Oliver, Senior Reporter

Due to COVID-19 regulations, all California public schools started off the year doing “distanced learning,” according to  EdSource. 

However, young students are not as attentive during distance learning as they would be in a regular school setting. 

“At the end of the day we’ll do math and then I see a huge decline in their attention and they start being a little more wiggly during the lesson…,” Tiffany Wallace, an elementary teacher at St. Matthews Catholic Elementary School said. 

For elementary students at St. Matthews the school day runs from  8 a.m. – 2 p.m., with multiple breaks and time for independent work between classes.

“I’ve had to do condensed lessons. Instead of having a full day with them, we just consume for an hour at a time, just twice a day. So it’s a lot of information especially for them. I’ve tried to make more engaging lessons and different activities like spirit days,” Wallace said.


With a decline in the amount of time students spend with teachers, condensed lessons are not uncommon. Teachers have had to re-construct their year-long plans in order to more effectively teach during synchronous distance learning. 

“I appreciate not having the children on Zoom from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. but it does put a lot more on the parents or caregivers because you’re making sure the child is doing their work since they’re not old enough to be independent,” Amy Irvine said, whose son attends St. Matthews. 

For most parents, it’s been a struggle to maintain their child’s education while maintaining their own careers. 

“This isn’t what anyone was expecting and I think that everybody is doing their very best. So just remembering to be compassionate and kind,” said Wallace.