Masks, social distancing and increased ventilation are all necessary pandemic measures in classrooms, but they can make for a difficult listening and hearing environment for students and teachers. While this is true for students with hearing loss, the capacity for COVID-19 measures to affect all students’ ability to hear clearly should also be considered.
Before COVID-19, classrooms already represented less-than-optimal-acoustic environments. It’s also true that young children, children who are learning a new language, children with language difficulties and children with recurrent ear infections have particular difficulty understanding speech in noisy situations.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario recognizes classroom noise as a barrier to teaching and learning. Read news coverage based on evidence, not alarm. COVID-19 measures potentially degrade the listening situation further because of masks, which remove visual cues for speech-reading and muffle the speaker’s voice, social distancing, plexiglass barriers or ventilation systems, which can add significant noise into the room.
Read the full article written by Associate Professor Pam Millett on the Conversation Website.