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How COVID-19 has Impacted Education and Student Life
Written by Vijay Jayamani l Originally published March 27th
The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused significant disturbances in society. Numerous attempts have been made to help limit the spread of the virus (flattening the curve), which also imposed substantial sacrifices, including the education of numerous children, youth, and adults.
Governments and state legislatures in many countries have arrived at the decision of closing all public and private educational institutions, impacting 1,524,648,768 learners worldwide.
These urgent decisions have been placed in response to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases worldwide (471,000) and the detrimental impacts it is currently having in the economic health crisis.
For example, 87% of the world’s student population, with over 160 countries, have been affected by the nationwide school closures according to UNESCO reports. With millions of learners currently experiencing discontinuity in standard learning, the rise of educational disruption is driving heavy responses from students and faculty. These responses encompass around the global concern for educational enrichment as well as student reactions for the cancellation of traditional highschool/college customs
Educational disruption has been a popular issue encircling media outlets and has caused extreme anguish in our academic population. Students ranging from elementary school to college undergrads are experiencing major discontinuity in learning including students in Sweden, Honduras, Italy, and the United States.
Some countries are taking extreme precautions with school attendance including Iceland, where “primary schools” can function if classes with 20 or fewer students can be “assured.” These extreme measures have resulted in the cancellation of many standard testing, major shutdowns in public libraries, and disorder in the grading system, and leaving students to cope with anxiety and pressure.
These responses are also connected with other factors that impact educational disruption, such as nutrition, an overall increase in dropout rates, and underprivileged students with distance learning.
According to nokidhungry.org, 22 million students “rely on the free or reduced-price lunch they receive at school, and every one of them is eligible for free breakfast as well.” With localized school closures across the United States, proper nutrition is unavailable for these students and impacting their ability to learn.
The increase in dropout rates across the nation is also a factor to consider from education disruption. With constant move-outs from campuses, increased unemployment, disruption in student housing, and the freeze of student enrollments, many students, especially first-generation and low income, are dealing with stress and pressure that prevents them from continuing school, and disrupting their interest in learning.
Numerous educational institutions are promoting educational platforms including systems with offline functionality, live video communications, and online courses in order to encourage continuous learning, an important aspect of our society. While these measures will help alleviate some concern and anxiety many students have for education disruption, this raises an important question: what about the underprivileged learners?
These students are especially vulnerable to interrupted learning as school closures have depleted their opportunity to outshine their skills to face the real world. Having minimal educational opportunities beyond traditional schooling, these students are faced with large-scale educational “disadvantages” that limit their chances to grow and help develop their families. Even though many educational institutions are providing equity in digital learning opportunities for these students, traditional schooling is “considered a road map to a child’s successful development into adulthood” and provides the utmost learning according to “The Edvocate.”
School closures not only play a significant role in the vitality for continuous learning, but it also proses serious concerns for traditional high school customs.
Student life, especially for the seniors, have been extremely difficult over the past few weeks with mixed emotions from school closures as there was an increase in social isolation and no time for reflection of the valuable memories made through their school years.
For example, with over 54,000 COVID-19 cases reported across the United States, traditional school customs including graduation, where seniors walk across the stage with the spotlight shining on their cap and gown and accepting their diploma, have been canceled and many question their graduation status. Many high school and
college seniors are implementing their “collection of thoughts” through emails, letters, and simple personal reflections, illustrating their feelings for the possibility of canceling these events.
Below is a sample of a personal reflection/letter from Sid Ram, a social media manager and editor at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology on the closure of VA schools for the academic year:
“It truly was a gut punch. That is the best way I can describe it. You see, on Thursday, March 12, I had every intention of returning to school the next day. Late that night, I found that we would have a four-day weekend and return on the following Tuesday. By mid-Friday we learned that we would be closed through Spring Break. A month out of school is a long time. But I knew that my friends and teachers would be waiting for me at the end of the month. Then, today, the decision was made that would propel me from being a high school senior to a rising college freshman with neither pomp nor circumstance.”
*A full description of Sid Ram’s letter to Dr. Scott Brabrand, Superintendent of FCPS can be found through this link: A collection of thoughts from a (former) high school senior
Sid mentions that these events “define the culmination of a high school senior’s career,” and has been a huge desire after going through a long journey of school which he describes as “two shining lights at the end of a tunnel, eight semesters in length.” With the unprecedented closures, spring after school activities and sports have also been canceled, something seniors frequently look up to as the school year starts winding down.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 18% of the population will struggle with an anxiety disorder and 7% will experience at least “one major depressive episode,” during this pandemic, which includes reactions from students. Struggling with how to deal with these emotions, many seniors are having a difficult time coping with everyday home activities including sleep, nutrition, and being social.
These notions are significant to consider in order to understand the harsh reality COVID 19 has injected into our society.
With all these mental disturbances from students and social disorder from education, the best way to deal with this harsh reality is to stay strong, stay mindful, and stay home.
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