From distance teaching to face-to-face teaching: psychological and affective implications

After nearly six months of closure due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the schools they are preparing to reopen the doors and there are many issues that need to be addressed in order to try to ensure a safe opening. Which implications from a point of view psychological e affective is it plausible to expect?

Hours of entry, distance in the classrooms, use of masks, availability of the teaching staff, recreations, school canteens are just some of the urgent problems for which schools have been committed to seeking solutions before reopening. 

After the hurricane of the Distance Learning (DAD), also the resumption of Teaching In Presence opens many questions and seems to require great adaptability and flexibility. 

But let's take a few steps back.


What aftermath has the experience of distance learning left behind?


Last March, schools were closed as a result of exceptional measures put in place to contain the spread of a new, very contagious virus, which was endangering the life of a part of the population, and the stability of the system in serious crisis. national health. As a result of those measures, we were locked inside the house for almost three months, with the ban on going out except for reasons of necessity.

We were in a state of emergency and, as such, we were exposed to high levels of stress, experiencing experiences of confusion, disorientation, anxiety, and uncertainty. 

In the meantime, millions of students and thousands of teachers have had to face a sudden and radical change in the way of teaching and learning. 

For months the didactics It was held at a distance, through the use of technological tools and platforms to meet virtually

The boundaries between the home environment and the study or work environment have blurred and, if in some cases, the availability of a PC and a good internet connection has given the impression of keeping a daily life intact, a part of us , more or less aware, continued to report that something was missing, that the relationship and the encounter, to be complete, need the body, to move also on an emotional, non-verbal level, to take place in presence

This also applies to the instinct for knowledge and the motivation to learn, which they feed on encounter experiences in the "here and now" of a space and a time shared with someone other than us. Being close emotionally often involves being close physically as well. 

Now that meeting is preparing to happen again, but in the fear that if you get too close there is danger. 


Is health prevention compatible with the school's goal of building communities?


In addition to measuring the distance between the counters and having a disinfectant dispenser, there are therefore other aspects to pay attention to and dedicate energy to, such as: 

  • support teachers and students / them to return to school classrooms and face a further new adaptation after that to Distance learning
  • ask oneself how to welcome and contain the "contagion" anxieties, but also the frustration of the lack of contact and the possibility of being close
  • ask yourself how to manage the inevitable "leaks" from the rules, due to transgression, inattention or, in some cases, the simple impossibility of applying them?  

Teachers will once again be called upon to perform others functions beyond that didactics: some more reparative, others more constructive.

They will be called to stand and testify, recovering what has been, enhancing the meeting space as a space for affective processing, for the construction of meanings: “how do I live or have I experienced what is happening? what effect does it have on me? how does it make me feel? "

The lockdown experience is still alive in the minds of students, as of all of us, and will be part of the Baggage with which everyone will go back to school: for some it will be more orderly, for others more chaotic, for some it will be necessary to open it and go and see what is inside, because otherwise it risks being too heavy.

Not only that, the interventions deemed necessary to guarantee health safety have the paradoxical effect of undermining another sense of security, what comes from being close to others, from feeling in a welcoming and predictable environment. 

Perhaps never as before, the sharing of experiences between teachers and students, will allow theexercise of empathy and compassion, if you have the wisdom to give space to imagination, desires and emotions.

 Adults will be called to exercise their ability to stay in uncertainty, when in doubt, because it is with these moods that everyone is preparing to cross the school gates. 

Finally, the question that contains the challenge: will we be able to cross an inhospitable, sometimes hostile territory, continuing to cultivate the imagination of the future how we would like it to be, nourishing hope, planning and the desire to commit to building it? 

Perhaps it will depend on how much we will be able to creatively move within limits, giving them meaning, refusing to be crushed and keeping alive, in our mind, the possibility of going beyond the boundaries of the possible and of today.

Ilaria Saponaro


*PsyPlus Onlus is an organization that works to make psychology accessible to all. For information on treatments and access to support programs, contact the toll-free number 800.91.04.89 or visit the section of the Psychological Clinical Counseling Center of our site. 

** Notes on the author: Ilaria Saponaro is a Psychologist and Psychotherapist with a psychodynamic and systemic-relational orientation. He has been working for years for the design and implementation of psychoeducational interventions for children and adolescents and interventions to support parenting. She collaborates with the non-profit CIES for the “MaTeMù” Youth Center and School of Art and coordinates educational activities in schools for the association. It carries out facilitation and training activities on the occasion of training courses, seminars and workshops. He collaborates with the clinical center of the Institute of Integrated Relational Therapy (ITRI) specialized in the treatment of eating disorders. He works as a psychotherapist in private, offering counseling and therapeutic paths for the individual, the couple or the family. Since 2016 he has been an ordinary member of PsyPlus Onlus with whom he collaborates in the area of ​​school psychology services and as a psychotherapist of the Clinical Consultancy Center.

psychology, school, didactics

With your help, every day

we translate knowledge of psychology into effective projects

for the psychological well-being of each person

since 2011 we have been committed to the dissemination of psychological well-being as a right of every person

Via Gaeta 19 int.1 - 00185 Rome (Italy)
CF 97662640586 - VAT 12906461004
IBAN IT67Z0501803200000016828261

stay in contact

Follow the Social PsyPlus