How is COVID-19 affecting education?
Summertime is supposed to a joyous time for most kids, as they get a break from schooling until they return in the fall.
However, the ongoing pandemic caused by the corona virus has changed not only how students learn, but how teachers and guardians are able to teach them.
And with the normal fall semester causing concern for the influx of many students, teachers, and staff, education around the world will look much different for everyone.
In this continuing series, we’ll look at how COVID-19 is affecting education, the effects on children and adults, and what a possible future could hold.
How COVID-19 is Affecting Education
At the time of this writing, the corona virus has swept over the world, closing many industries and business.
Hospitals and urgent cares have been overwhelmed with the number of patients, while also trying to care for current patients without COVID symptoms.
As the summer months begin to shift into fall, the current focus is now on how to go about reopening the nation’s schools and allowing children back into the halls.
Even before classes ended, schools were met with challenges not only in teaching, but the common activities and events that often take place at schools.
Rites of Passage
One of the first events to be cancelled due to the viral outbreak was that of high school prom.
Many juniors and seniors look forward to this particular rite of passage, providing seniors a lasting memory before graduation and entering their next journey.
While prom had been cancelled, many families and friends tried to give their seniors a creative event to remember, even by hosting virtual proms or holding small gatherings.
Actor John Krasinski hosted several virtual proms for seniors, playing DJ with musical friends the Jonas Brothers, Billie Eilish, and Chance the Rapper.
High School Graduation & College Entrances
Prom isn’t the only thing that’s affecting high school seniors.
As with prom, many graduations were either cancelled or delayed in order to observe social distancing rules. But graduation isn’t the only concern for seniors.
According to a recent survey by Junior Achievement and the PMI Educational Foundation, many seniors have rethought their plans after graduation.
- Going to work instead of college immediately
- Delaying the start date for going to college
- Changing their career path
This survey shows that the pandemic continues to be an impact on not just students, but schools as well.
For universities and colleges, the daunting task of reopening their campus means trying to put in appropriate measures for social distancing.
Some are planning for in-person classes, while others are strictly going to have classes online. Another hindrance is college entrance exams.
Seniors normally take their SATs or ACTs during the last part of the semester or over the summer, but with school closures, students were unable to sit for these tests.
Some universities, like Harvard, Brown University, and Columbia University, are waiving the admission requirement for the SATs or ACTs due to the corona virus.
This is just a look at the high school and college level, but there are also issues when it comes to younger children as well.
Effects of COVID-19 on K-12 Education
According to UNESCO, nearly 1.6 billion students from across 190 countries have been affected by the global pandemic.
That’s 90% of the world’s school age children.
Just like the universities above, K-12 schools are also trying to decide what should be done when it comes to re-opening school to their students.
There are actually a few challenges for doing so:
- In-person classrooms could further the spread of the virus. While studies of the virus on children is still being investigated, there is still the danger of those who are infected spreading the virus to others, including teachers, staff, and family members.
- While many schools have switched to online or distance learning, for many students – especially those from low-income families or in rural areas – access to high Internet speeds or even the Internet itself is unachievable. Factor in the amount of people in the home and slow speeds could be even slower.
- Schools can be a welcome haven for children who have troublesome home lives. Many reports of suspected abuse or neglect are caught by teachers or counsellors, but without this intervention, many of these cases may go unreported. School lunches may also provide a nutritious meal for students, especially if they are unable to get these at home.
- School is often a continuing occurrence for children’s emotional and social developments, helping them interact with peers and others not part of their immediate family. Without these interactions, concerns grow that children will fall behind developmentally.
The above shows how school closures as the result of the corona virus are affecting children and students overall.
But children, teens, and young adults aren’t the only ones that are being affected.
Effects of COVID-19 on Parents and Teachers
An online survey conducted by the Association of American Educators Foundation in April 2020 revealed that while 84% of teachers agreed with the closings of schools, they were worried.
More than half of those polled were concerned that students would fall behind and struggle academically.
42% of teachers stated that their educational community were unprepared for closures and 46% said their district’s plans for supporting special education students were insufficient.
For teachers, while closures were a necessity, the upcoming school year does pose a problematic situation on the upcoming school year will look like.
As we mentioned above, students who don’t have access to the Internet or have slow Internet speeds will have difficulty with learning in a pure digital classroom.
Teachers are having to learn new ways to encourage students, especially when they are unable to view their students’ body language or expression to know if the lesson is getting across.
And teachers have discovered that teaching online is more than just moving the classroom to the Internet; there’s converting course work to better fit the digital age.
Fine arts instruction, such as music and art, has proved to be more difficult as these classes are usually more tactile. But both students and teachers are finding positives to the change.
While videos of remote working with children mishaps have given us a needed laugh during this time, both parents and kids are feeling the stress of schools being closed.
Parents are struggling with the new change of working from home or may be experiencing a possibly long period of unemployment.
Taken together with isolation and anxiety on the future, children may be picking up their parents emotions, while also trying to push through theirs.
13% of adolescents receive mental healthcare through their school counsellors, sometimes without their parents’ knowledge.
Parents may want to help their child with their education, but the stress of the situation may push that desire aside to concentrate on other things.
This is especially true for single parent homes. One mother of four replied in an interview with Associated Press that her worry was about surviving, not conjugating verbs.
Education’s Outlook After COVID-19
So far, we’ve looked at how COVID-19 has affected the education sector and everyone involved, from students to teachers to parents.
As we approach the upcoming fall semester, the concern of reopening schools is still a high priority.
While offering distance or online schooling may work for some students, what about those who have no internet or slow Internet access? Or even own a computer?
What about students that require special educational needs?
In all of these cases, there is still uncertainty of where we will be once the pandemic has been eliminated.
But there are still silver linings for many of these scenarios. A benefit is seeing and addressing some of these challenges.
Online schooling can be beneficial for many students, though the downside is the possibility of leaving those without access behind.
The idea of providing smaller, mobile classrooms with technology has been a growing staple for countries that need schools in hard to reach areas.
For instance, Samsung was able to create a technology based mobile schoolhouse for students in a rural part of Johannesburg, South Africa.
In this instance and others, shipping containers were used to supplement or create schoolhouses or classrooms to help children continue their education.
Depending on size, these shipping container classrooms could be ready in a few days or even a few hours, delivering learning access to those students unable to go to school.
In this article, we looked at how COVID-19 is affecting education as we get closer to possible reopenings for schools.
There is still uncertainty, but efforts to reach students of all ages continues and develops into new strategies that could led to a different method of learning all together.
To learn more about how shipping containers can help your school deal with COVID-19 fill out the form below: