SPRINGFIELD, Ore. – The longer Lane County continues to report high COVID-19 case numbers, the less likely students are to return to the classroom anytime soon. Now, a local doctor says that could create challenges for students, especially those with learning disabilities.
Dr. Fred Kinnicutt, a child adolescent psychiatrist at PeaceHealth, said students in kindergarten through third grade are at an especially important developmental time in their lives. It's when they are developing language and social skills in addition to physical and motor skills.
“That’s kind of where they learn the fundamental rules. How do you interact? What’s appropriate or not appropriate?” Kinnicutt said.
Whether children succeed in this new learning style largely comes down to how well teachers and parents adapt to online learning, Kinnicutt said.
Some are thriving, but others are struggling.
"We have this pretty significant group of kids with learning disabilities and learning impairments. They are really suffering. They are just not learning in this manner,” Kinnicutt said.
Kinnicutt said this is because those students are losing out on the tactile, hands-on approach that a classroom provides. He said it will take some extra effort from parents to help their kids succeed at home. Without that, some may fall behind.
“We know that’s not the best prognosis. Those aren’t going to be the best outcomes because they’re missing those important opportunities to learn. So they’re going to be at a deficit just to be in bluntly.”
Kinnicutt recommends providing structure and routine in your child's day and keeping them mentally and physically engaged. He said parents should remain calm and create a sense of stability at home as much as possible. He also commended teachers and parents for their extraordinary efforts to ensure children receive an education in the midst of the pandemic.