COVID-19 harmed literacy development of younger N.B. students: minister

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FREDERICTON — New Brunswick's Department of Education says mental wellness remains a concern as students return to class after two years of disruptions due to the pandemic.

The 2021-22 provincial assessment results released today show about 30 per cent of students from Grade 6 to 12 felt lonely most or all of the time, while nearly 50 per cent reported spending three or more hours a day on social media.

It says about 50 per cent reported symptoms of anxiety, and about 46 per cent showed signs of depression.

Education Minister Dominic Cardy says the results also show a negative impact from the pandemic on younger children's literacy development.

There was some good news too, with the report noting more than 80 per cent of students in Grade 6 to 12 say they felt their teachers like and care about them.

It says 89 per cent of students believe learning new things is important, while 85 per cent believe they can succeed at school.

The department says such indicators are important because they provide "valid and reliable provincial standards against which system performance can be evaluated."

"We are again encouraged by the results even after two years of disruptions caused by the pandemic," Cardy says in the report.

"Overall, there have been few significant changes from the previous year, though indicators point to greater negative impacts on literacy development of younger students."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 13, 2022.

The Canadian Press