Covid-19 or coronavirus is an infectious disease
identified in 2019 in China. There is no specific treatment yet, and around 5%
of infected remain in critical conditions. The rest have mild conditions and
don’t require specific treatment. However, almost a third of the world’s
population is locked in their homes, not being able to study and work. Today we
want to analyze and discuss the impact of Covid-19 on education and academic
Usually, students are happy to have a break from college and to relax without a need to do all those essays and research works. But not now. Schools, colleges, and universities across the world have been closed for weeks or even months, and students have to adjust to the new rules and schedules.
Millions of students worldwide have been impacted by
the Covid-19 spread and are locked at home without a chance to go to college,
do sports, and hobbies. So far, the pandemic has influenced students in over
100 countries, and 43 US states have made a series of restrictions to stop the
spread of the deadly virus.
In 2013, the British Health Protection Agency noticed
that shutting schools and colleges helped to slow down the flu outbreaks, and
it’s not surprising: students share stationery, kiss and hug when greeting, use
the same facilities inside buildings. However, the data on whether college
closures will help to stop Covid-19 spread is still absent.
Teenagers may not be the main way of infection
transmission, but the social and economic costs are huge. New York mayor Bill
de Blasio said that there were many reasons not to close the city’s educational
establishments. However, for governments, it is choosing between two bad
Closing all schools and colleges may potentially lead
to an economic disaster. Many countries are better prepared to face the
financial crisis compared to the US. For example, China’s national closures
come along with work-from-home policies and compensations for companies, which
continue funding their workers. However, in Japan, not everyone is able to take
paid sick leave or work from home. Italy faces the same problem: one-fifth of
the working population (this includes students) is self-employed and doesn’t
qualify for sick leaves. Students simply won’t be able to pay the tuition fee
if they stay without work during the quarantine.
Another important issue is that children and students
get a free or low-price lunch, and this meal often becomes the most nutritious
part of the whole day. In New York City, over 20,000 teenagers stay in
municipal shelters. How will they cope with the situation during the quarantine
without a place to stay and food to eat?
Officials should always consider these issues when
declaring states of emergency and introducing quarantine. But that’s not all.
According to the 2009 British study, if all schools are closed for one month, up to 19% of health-care workers will have to stay at home to take care of their children. Thus, Britain decided to keep schools open for those whose parents are key workers and for vulnerable students.
However, for most parents, the main concern is their
children’s education—especially those who are qualified for a degree or have an
important exam ahead.
Almost 250,000 British students were going to have
a-levels in May. An exam to determine what university they qualify for.
However, in March, it became obvious that the exam is canceled. Boris Johnson
said that schoolers will still get all the necessary qualifications for the
future career. And while this may not be a disaster for wealthy students, what
should schoolers with lack of knowledge and cash do? They are the most
vulnerable category and should be reckoned with.
Let’s return to the United States. Here the stakes are
not so high and partially because of students’ transcripts. It is based on the
achievements and grades throughout the year and makes the biggest part of the
college application. Another benefit is that US students can take SATs, college
admission exams, all year round.
Unfortunately, most students take the exam in spring,
mainly in March and May. Thus, those who wanted to start a university in 2021
will have to wait for new dates when the exam will take place. Fortunately,
everyone will be able to take the exam at home without a need to go anywhere.
Another problem that affects students across the
United States is that they won’t be able to visit campuses to make up their
minds on which college or university to enter. The decision should be made
before May 1st, and it’s unlikely that the lockdown will be canceled by then.
Some students and parents requiring to push the date to June 1st, but colleges
remain silent. Harvard, however, is not going to change the applicable terms.
But not everyone is so stressed about the Covid-19
pandemic. Some education experts and enthusiasts, who don’t approve national
exams, find it a right time to protest. Some educational establishments have
made SATs optional. Miami University doesn’t exclude such a possibility.
The pandemic may speed up the process, experts say.
However, the results of such a decision may be seen in a matter of months,
which supports those who believe that high-stakes exams are an unfair way to
choose who gets into a university. But it’s obvious that there are still no
alternative ways for a transparent and objective measure of skills and
knowledge. And before making such an important decision, the government and
institutions should offer an alternative.
The pandemic won’t be able to change the situation
significantly, but it will definitely highlight strong and weak aspects of
teaching: both online and offline. During these troubling times, online
resources are gaining more popularity, and remote teaching can boast a broad
digital infrastructure for students worldwide.
Teacher Tapp, an application of British origin, has
interviewed over 6,000 teachers, and it turned out that only 40% of state
school educators are able to hold a video lesson. The rate is bigger – 69% –
among independent school teachers.
Unfortunately, US tutors don’t have much choice. Once
Italian schools and colleges were closed at the beginning of March, forums and
social media for teachers were filled with comments and debates on the benefits
and drawbacks of Moodle, Zoom, and other virtual classrooms. Some tutors know
how to use these technologies, while many others have to face serious
Teachers across the world confess they could never think of becoming a YouTuber and telling about arts, history, and even giving physical education classes. But online classes cause difficulties not only for the teachers. Schoolers and students struggle as well. And here’s why.
Not all students are able to get online and join the
virtual classroom. For example, 7 million American school-aged children don’t
have the Internet at home and simply won’t be able to take classes even if the
school holds them.
Let’s take China as an example. All schools and colleges were closed since the end of January, following the Lunar New Year. This urged the need to reconsider the idea and problems of learning online. Of course, the process isn’t smooth, and there are multiple problems to be solved: Internet access, creating a schedule, teaching tutors how to use the online platform like Do My Writing service, holding classes that are not accustomed to remote learning (for example, physical education).
In China, tutors need to submit plans for future
lessons and wait for censor’s reviews, which causes significant delays. There
has been a single teaching app and was bombarded with low grades and one-stars
by students, who want the app to be removed from the store.
Some parents worry about the increased screen time
because, during the quarantine, children have to spend lots of time in front of
their computers. Thus, many parents and some students prefer printing out the
materials to protect eyesight and keep up with the curriculum.
Unfortunately, even if the process is arranged
properly, online education is a bad substitute for the activities that take
place in a classroom. It is proven that students are not accustomed to learning
online, especially those who have weaker skills and knowledge. Online sources
can be a good option when students can’t be present in schools and colleges,
but they are not a great option for most of the schoolers. Long time away from
educational establishments will most likely damage the education.
The Covid-19 pandemic made us reconsider the pros and
cons of online learning. Yes, it has certain potential, and the latest
technologies may help schoolers in poor countries to gain an education. Of
course, if these children and students have Internet access.
In 2018, experts evaluated users of the Mindspark app,
which tests language and mathematical skills. And the results were rather
impressive. However, the success of these initiatives greatly depends on a
thorough organization and takes time. It is unlikely that changing schedules
and educational programs in the middle of a pandemic will positively impact