DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — After a year of virtual classes due to the pandemic, schools in the Wiregrass
are slowly getting back to normal in brick and mortar classrooms.

While students and staff are grateful to be in the traditional learning setting, the social skills of many students have fallen behind. This has caused some students to display disruptive behavior in the classroom.

“It is harder for some with their behavior, but we keep close relationships with those students,” Heard Elementary Guidance Counselor, Leah Oppert said. “Sometimes we have to develop invention plans. And we have to have daily contacts with students and maybe some rewards built in there, where we reward them for good behavior.”

Last year 3rd-grade teacher, U’Rosia Faulk, had to teach her students remotely, where she saw many vital social skills in her students lacking due to the isolation of online learning.

Now this year she is back in the classroom where she says her students are having to relearn those skills once again.

“We did have to go back over those social skills like how to participate in a class discussion, how to be respectful when you are having a class discussion, how to respectfully agree and disagree with peers, and have those discussions,” Faulk said.

Maintaining good social skills is vital for the future academic success of young people, that’s why Heard Elementary has implemented many programs to help bridge the gap since the pandemic.

“We have put programs in place to try to rebuild those skills,” Oppert said. “We go in and talk about feelings, and we go in and talk about friendship, and self-esteem. We just knew that it was going to be an issue upon their return.”