Medical Side Effects of Remote Learning and Teaching

James Isakson, Staff Reporter

A typical school day used to consist of waiting for the bus, attending class in person, and having lunch with friends. The 2020-2021 school year however is different. With Covid-19 still present throughout the US, school systems had to change the way teachers taught students. South Hadley Public Schools is no different. With the new way of teaching, using Zoom, Google Meet, and other virtual classrooms, students spend most of the day staring at their computer screen. In the high school last year, the schedule was 6 classes a day, with five-minute breaks between classes, a 30-minute lunch break, and a 10-minute snack break. This year students have 4 classes a day with five-minute breaks between classes and a 38-minute lunch.

Remote or virtual learning has its pros and cons with learning abilities, wifi issues, and difficulties concentrating on class. However, the medical side of remote learning has not been talked about. As many already know, computer screens produce blue light. to some, can cause migraines, however, some studies have shown that the blue light is not the problem, it can be many factors. The position of the screen, glare, the screen brightness, or even dust on the screen can cause eye strain. The Mayo Clinic, the number one hospital in the nation for five years running, states on its website, “Eyestrain is a common condition that occurs when your eyes get tired from intense use, such as while driving long distances or staring at computer screens and other digital devices.”

“With remote learning, I find I am stiffer and am [now] taking medication on a daily basis to relieve the headaches and body aches,” Carol Isakson said. Carol is a paraprofessional at the Plains School and has some previous medical issues that worsened by sitting in front of a screen all day. She said, “[The headaches and body aches] keep me from doing necessary things out of work, like chores.”

Julie Hammond, a science teacher at South Hadley High School, said, “I have fibromyalgia and/or Myofascial Pain Syndrome, so… [TMJ pain and headaches, carpal tunnel, and muscle pain] are generally always present but have been exacerbated by sitting at the computer all day,” Hammond said. TMJ is is the joint that connects the jawbone to the skull. People with fibromyalgia are more likely to experience TMJ pain. as it is a disorder that causes skeletal pain throughout the body.

“I get itchy eyes because apparently, you blink less while staring at a computer screen,” Hammond said. “This leads to increased evaporation which leads to dry eyes”

A tip given by many doctors and nurses is called the 20-20-20 rule. The rule states that every 20 minutes of screen time, take 20 seconds staring at an object that is at least 20 feet away. This gives your eyes a break from staring at the screen and allows them to relax.