MOUNT DESERT — COVID-19 has disrupted education and challenged school administrators and teachers as never before.
But some adjustments that schools have made in response to the pandemic have had quite positive effects, according to Gloria Delsandro, principal of Mount Desert Elementary School.
She said teachers there have cited the benefits of having smaller groups of children and consistent rules and expectations for recess.
“That has had a significant impact in a positive way on student behavior,” Delsandro told the Mount Desert School Committee last week.
“We have seen a remarkable decrease in behavior issues. A lot of fresh air and body movement has been great for the kids and their social and emotional development. And the kids seem genuinely happy.”
Students have three 30-minute recess periods a day.
Delsandro said that having younger students eat lunch in their classrooms also has been good for them.
“They are focusing on eating, so they’re eating more and there isn’t as much talking when the students have their masks off and they are 6 feet apart,” she said.
“We usually have a beautiful salad bar in our cafeteria, and there are a lot of choices there for younger students. But now, having limited choices makes it easier for them to focus on eating.
“And it’s more developmentally appropriate for the younger kids to not go to the cafeteria. The cafeteria is a beautiful place, but there are a lot of kids in there, so having the lunches in classrooms has been peaceful.”
According to teachers, the students’ daily wellness check also has been a positive.
“Parents doing that and students not being in school when they are sick has kept our school so very healthy,” Delsandro said. “It’s more time on task for teachers, and students are learning more because their learning isn’t interrupted.
“The sanitizing, the hand washing, we have all talked about how we can continue that as part of how we do things going forward.”