Stay in School, Seabury!

Seaburians reflect upon Covid affecting academic progress.

Margaret Mulhern, Copy

When the novel Coronavirus shocked the globe in 2020, everything shut down: Basketball, Broadway and Bishop. Seven months later we returned and started the long trek back to normality. However things were far from perfect, and Seabury soon discovered the detrimental impact on academic progress that occurred during the time away.

“Math instruction I think was really hard during lockdown, during the pandemic, and so those scores in particular have taken a pretty big hit,” says Patterson regarding notable takeaways from the pandemic’s academic setbacks, “I also seem to be getting the impression that it impacted students lower grade levels more than students in high grade levels, so the students who were getting fundamentals.” 

“Not being able to do things hands-on sucked. That was awful. I hated that. I feel like I didn’t get any of the real school experience that I should have,” remarks freshman Xeva Oldridge when discussing the biggest struggle of online learning. “I didn’t learn anything. I cannot remember a single thing that I actually learned over Zoom,” she says.

Eighth grader Alice Pulsinelli shares similar feelings to Oldridge. “I don’t like working online because I think that it’s harder to engage in the lesson,” she says. “It’s harder to ask questions if you don’t understand something and you can’t come in to make up anything or ask extra questions. So that definitely makes it a little harder to learn.” 

Mr. Patterson echoes what Oldridge and Pulsinelli had to say. “I’ve read a lot of articles over the last couple of years and as soon as information from the pandemic era became available, it was pretty clear that test scores were going down as a result.”

Patterson has studied data regarding standardized testing impacts. “I don’t think it’s been catastrophic but it’s been definitely observable,” remarks Patterson. He is, however, hopeful that things can get better from this dip in charts, but emphasizes the importance of teacher flexibility and focus on core concepts. “One thing about young people is that they are very resilient. It may be that as they mature they’ll be able to kinda grow through this and overcome these obstacles.”  

“The great thing about Seabury is we can be a little more flexible with smaller numbers of students and more personal attention, we can kinda be a little more flexible and kinda adapt what we do,” says Patterson. “Our scores over the past couple of years have been within the range of where they usually are.”

Patterson believes that Seabury is doing “totally fine,” but also warns about future students since the progress with younger students was so aggressive. “So we’ll see as they trickle up through the grade levels that maybe we’ll find that there are some deficiencies there that we haven’t encountered before,” he says.