Education was disrupted by the pandemic, and at the height of lockdowns in April 2020, nearly 90% of students across the world didn’t attend a physical school. With the return to in-person education, there are still fears about COVID-19 breakouts and school closures. Educators don’t want students to lose any more schooling.
The current situation at the beginning of a new school is challenging for both educators and for students in many ways, especially as the Delta variant continues to spread.
As long as schools have prevention measures in place and take quick action to contain clusters, the risk of full-fledged outbreaks is less likely to occur. Pediatricians are mostly in favor of universal mask-wearing in schools.
Wearing masks can pose difficulties for children when learning, especially for those who are shy and soft-spoken. Children can battle to follow the instructions of teachers wearing masks, and not being able to read facial expressions is hard for both teachers and children.
It was hard enough for parents to explain to their young children why they had to maintain a distance from their friends, but social distancing is even more difficult to enforce in a classroom with multiple students.
Having to move desks around to allow for social distancing can create awkward and cramped learning spaces. Some schools are using a hybrid schedule of virtual learning and in-person learning to reduce classroom sizes. Returning to school after spending many months apart increases the desire to reconnect with friends, and this can result in children battling with social distancing at school.
The pandemic turned education on its head and saw a move to remote learning. Many schools are adopting a blend of in-person and distance learning for this school year. Safe schools are likely to keep remote learning protocols in place as they stagger home and in-school learning. If they need to shut down, children can easily switch to distance learning.
While distance learning, some students battle to cope with the pandemic impact. Writix is an essay writing service in the U.K. with a dedicated team of writing experts on hand who can write on many different topics.
What makes it challenging for parents facing the return of their children to school is a desire not to want to put them at risk. There is hesitancy in many parents with regard to vaccinating children. There are some schools that are urging parents to consider vaccinating their children, but a number of them would rather still rely on distance learning to protect their children.
Parents don’t know whether their children face more danger from the virus or from the vaccine. Children are less likely to be hospitalized when they contract the COVID-19 virus, but they can pass it on to others, including those who are at high risk.
There is, therefore, some risk for teachers, especially those with pre-existing health conditions. Some children in schools will be vaccinated and others will be unvaccinated, which is likely to create a whole new set of challenges.
Mental health challenges
The mental health challenges of children during the pandemic should not be underestimated. Many teens missed significant events in their lives with school closures and canceled events. School children of all ages missed daily moments, like chatting with friends in class or participating in class.
Developing relationships and communicating with others provides the emotional support that is so beneficial for mental health. Virtual get-togethers don’t offer the same support. Schools will need to start thinking more about psychological support for children. Children need support to adapt and thrive in the unusual circumstances they are facing today.
Academic learning loss
Academic learning loss due to schools shutting their doors for some time is a growing concern, especially for children living in low-resourced communities. UNICEF is assisting governments and schools during this time with the hope is that schools will re-open better than before.
Educators are saying that it is important to leverage the current crisis as a unique opportunity to fully re-imagine education systems. For example, educators could revisit the way they test students and there could be more virtual learning.
Starting the new school year has been arduous for teachers and students as they battle to adjust to the ‘new normal.’ COVID-19 has probably changed education forever and educators are continually having to adapt and adjust to a new way of teaching. However, the challenges they are facing could be stepping stones to more successful education in the future as a blend of in-person and distance learning becomes more permanent.
About the author: Alisia Stren works for a publishing agency in a senior role and her work is to coordinate with colleges and universities and understand their book publishing requirements, and deliver what is required. On the side, she freelances as a college essay and coursework writer. Her hobbies are doing pencil sketching, reading funny books and playing tennis.