The present educational system has been affected significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic and this has led to the near-total closures of different educational institutions across the globe.
The majority of the governments took the decision to close these institutions temporarily so as to minimize the spread of Covid-19. Around 825 million students are presently affected because of school closures due to the pandemic. According to UNICEF, as many as 23 nations are implementing nationwide closures currently, and 40 are executing local closures affecting approximately 40% of the student population of the world. The schools of approximately 112 countries are presently open.
Apart from impacting students, teachers, as well as families, school closures likewise have far-reaching societal and economic consequences. School closures due to the pandemic have influenced different social and economic conditions such as school debt, food insecurity, digital learning, homelessness, Internet, and disability services. This impact has been more severe for the unprivileged children as well as their families causing compromised nutrition, disrupted learning, childcare issues, plus resultant economic expenses to families who were not able to work.
The present situation in the US
Schools are beginning to reopen after one year of online learning for most of the 58 million K-12 students of the US. Closed educational institutions had an upsetting impact on lots of children because of social isolation plus the stress caused by pandemic lockdowns on many households.
Instructors are beginning to verify the impact which the pandemic will be having on children and how to make them get back to school once again. As part of the Now What series of CNET, the author conversed with Dennis Pope who happens to be the co-founder of Challenge Success, a nonprofit organization which encourages best practices in education, and a senior instructor at Stanford University Graduate School of Education.
They discussed the positive as well as negative impacts which the pandemic had on the students. However, first, they had to talk about the mental health issues before everything else.
Dennis Pope mentioned that as many as 11,000 high school students had been surveyed by them at the time of the pandemic, and a minimum of 28% of them asserted that one of their top concerns happen to be mental health. On most occasions, they saw homework as one of the top concerns out there.
As a matter of fact, a 32% jump in the number of visits of adolescents to emergency rooms in the year 2020 for treating conditions related to mental health has been reported by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. Apart from this, a study was published by the American Journal of Pediatrics in the month of December which depicted a whopping 28% jump in ER visits for the younger generation for the purpose of treating suicidal behavior. Besides this, the New York Times has also reported on the mental health crisis for teenagers as well.
Benefits obtained by the kids
While it has been stressed by Dennis Pope that there are many more negatives in general for the students from the previous year, she likewise mentioned that there have been some positives for the kids too. As a matter of fact, some children like the idea of learning from the comfort of their own residents since they are able to concentrate easily, make use of their time more effectively, or there is no need for them to worry about social pressures or bullying out there. It is also possible for the older children to fit their schooling around their job schedules very easily. Toddlers suffering from attention deficit conditions can take advantage of fewer distractions while schooling from their residences.
Benefits obtained by the teachers
It is a fact that there are several instructors who have also been benefited as well. According to Dennis Pope, they now have teachers who are creating videos of the lessons rather than grading the papers, writing feedback, and handing them back to the kids. This helps to make everything more personal in the long run. And to be honest, it is somewhat more effective, at least for the instructor.
This happens to be an example of what might continue following the pandemic. Instructors have likewise accelerated the usage of technologies such as Google Docs for cooperative learning, Zoom for video conferencing, and Kahoot for converting online quizzes into intriguing games.
However, in excess of 4 million families do not have constant access to online learning at present as mentioned by the US Census Bureau. A lot has been done by the school districts for filling the gap, but many kids nevertheless got missed in spite of this.
Pope also mentioned that she must give credit to the schools for trying their best to get the kids connected. In fact, there are plenty of districts which have invested their money in purchasing laptops and Chromebooks. They have tried their best for procuring Internet access. They are putting school buses equipped with Wi-Fi in the middle of the localities.
According to Pope, it is known to them that there are many children who are not capable of connecting. Some kids are not able to connect whatsoever and instructors are searching for them, sending letters, and making phone calls. They’re really concerned about this particular population. They wanted them to return to school so that they are able to gain back all the learning which has been missed by them.
Those measures are going to consist of tutoring and summer programs. There have been proposals to provide training to many more tutors given that many will be required for helping the children who are lagging behind at present.
You will also come across children who do not want to go back.
Pope added that they are expecting an explosion of an increasing number of online schools given that a lot of kids have found online learning to be much better in the long run.
It is evident that this pandemic is going to go on changing and evolving many things for students as well as teachers. While some will be more challenging, others are going to be for the better.