In the current era of education and social communication shifting into a virtual world the students entering the early elementary education system have experienced something that is new to all of us. Within the last two and a half years life as we have known it has vastly shifted. Virtual learning and communication, which is not something that is new, but something that was scarce prior to the Covid-19 pandemic is now the “new normal.” For many of the students affected, this way of learning has shaped much of their educational career. Changes like these are affecting areas of development within these young students; such as the development of their nonverbal communication, the increase of anxiety, alongside behavioral shifts. Throughout this paper we will be discussing and analyzing the current research and data alongside these new protocols, as well as their effects in the short term on those who are most vulnerable. Some of the new protocols and overall changes that we will be looking into are the use of masking, social distancing, distance learning, and the increase in screen time. Above all, the questions we are going to be looking at are: Have these changes affected early elementary students, and has it created limitations within their nonverbal communication, and increasing anxiety? And how?
COVID-19, NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION, ELEMENTARY AGE, MENTAL HEALTH