The study analyzed children from 3 months to 3 years old, using data ranging back to 2011. The researchers found early learning, verbal development and nonverbal development scores dipped after 2019.
It also found the results were worse for boys and children of poorer families.
Dr. Robyn Koslowitz, a school psychologist, said the results are in line with the lessons adults have learned about pandemic restrictions on children.
“We used to think that online learning could help children just as much” as being in school, Koslowitz said on “On Balance with Leland Vittert.” “They could do math, they could do reading online. But in actuality, we’re seeing that the learning is suffering and the social and emotional learning is really suffering.”
Kozlowitz says part of the issue with the current state of in-person learning is masks make it difficult for children to pick up on certain nonverbal cues.
“The research shows that children can read social and emotional cues while they and teachers are wearing masks between the ages of about 7 and 13,” she said. “The older you are, the better you are at doing it. But the younger you are — when you’re under 7, preverbal infants, toddlers really need the entire face.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends masking in schools, and points to three studies on its website that showed universal masking in schools reduced infections.
There may be a compromise; Kozlowitz says having students and teachers wear clear masks is “infinitely preferable” to cloth masks.