Equity, Research, Well-being

A Post-Pandemic Health Check

One of the core mandates of the EdCan Network and Education Canada magazine has always been to connect research with practice, and researchers with practitioners. With this spring edition, we are proud to carry on this tradition, partnering with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO) to bring a rich selection of emerging Canadian research and recommendations to the broader education community.

We’ve lived with COVID-19 for three years now, but what do we actually know about its impact on education? Are we “back to normal” (sort of) or far from it? Where have the most significant impacts been, and how can we best support recovery? CCUNESCO have tapped into their network to bring us the latest findings from researchers who have been studying these questions. And, bridging another divide, for this edition all articles are available in both English and French.

One finding I found very interesting came from a Quebec study reported by authors Martineau and Charland (p. 32), who learned that in secondary school especially, teachers were more concerned about losses they observed in students’ “school skills” (e.g. paying attention, organization, autonomy) than in academic content. This resonates with what an Ontario teacher said to me recently: “My Grade 9 students especially seem more like Grade 6 kids in terms of their focus and maturity. I find myself saying things like “Get your hands off him” and “Why are you over there?!”

Other articles explore what Ontario principals identify as top-priority needs for their schools (p. 28), how Alberta has addressed reading remediation in the early grades (p. 7), the variety of impacts pandemic teaching has had on teachers’ wellbeing and engagement (p. 10), and more.

As we negotiate this new “use your own judgment” stage of the pandemic, for most of us the risk-benefit equation is not always clear. We are feeling our way, making our best guess for each situation (mask or no mask? Is it safe to travel or not?). But in this crucial post(ish)-pandemic stage, our students and teachers – especially those who are most vulnerable or marginalized – need and deserve better than guesswork. That’s why this research is so important – so we can understand more fully just what is needed to enable both students and school staff to thrive as we continue to evolve education, COVID-style.

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First published in Education Canada, April 2023

Meet the Expert(s)

Holly Bennett

Holly Bennett

English Editor of Education Canada.

Holly Bennett is the English Editor of Education Canada.

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