Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Philosophy (Ph.D)


Education Specialties

First Advisor

Adam Clark

Second Advisor

Michael Sampson


The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a variety of problems around the world, including isolation, school closure, contact restriction, and economic shutdown; these problems have completely changed the psychosocial environment and physical well-being of children everywhere (Fegert et al., 2020). Education underwent tremendous changes almost overnight: As a result of the pandemic, students were forced to embrace virtual learning to finish the 2019–2020 academic year and begin the 2020–2021 academic year. This change caused anxiety and trauma to adults and young children. DC Public Schools (2020) described the experience of virtual learning as a “shared traumatic experience” (p. 1). Virtual learning has many negative consequences, including isolation, loneliness, and a sense of detachment. These consequences were bound to affect education and have implications for the future learning of students, particularly those students learning fundamental reading skills in kindergarten. Kindergarteners are rapidly developing reading skills that will serve them for the rest of their lives. This study investigated what literacy instruction looked like during a period of virtual learning. This study took place in a kindergarten classroom in a public school in Washington, DC. I studied the class of kindergarteners I taught during the 2020–2021 academic year because they were learning virtually. The class included 23 students: 13 girls and 10 boys. One student had an individualized education plan, and seven students spoke English as a second language. The study relied on a constructivist grounded theory approach to address the research question. The findings provide meaningful insights for practitioners in early childhood education. They let educators know that there is work to be done surrounding the explicit teaching of phonemic awareness. We can see some of the immediate effects of COVID-19 in our early childhood education classrooms across the city of DC and elsewhere but more in-depth longitudinal data will need to be collected to see the lasting effects on children.

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