The COVID-19, a contagious disease, has spread quickly throughout the world. On March 12, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. There have been tremendous health, economical, social, and fiscal shocks to countries and to their citizens. To slow the spread of the disease, most countries have been under restrictions with person-to-person contact, gathering of people, and travel. More than half of the world’s population have experienced a lockdown that included government-issued curfews and quarantines.
The pandemic has largely affected education in over 190 countries, as stated in the United Nations’ Policy Brief. In particular, it has been more difficult for the low and lower-middle income countries; as well as for the students living in poor or rural areas, girls, persons of disabilities, speakers and learners of a different language, and forcibly displaced persons (e.g., refugees). Many essential services that the children and communities receive are at a standstill, such as getting nutritious food or having a safe space learning with adult supervision.
The United Nations foresees more students dropping out of school. Reasons may be due to not having the money to pay teachers or for school, the need to help out with work or care, or getting married earlier.
In the year 2019-2020, the US has nearly every state ordered or recommended school shutdowns for weeks to months for grades K-12. Parents, teachers, and administrators have worked hard to keep education continued. Many students during this pandemic have been learning in either: in-person instruction, online only, or a hybrid model of in-person learning and online instruction. According to the US Census Bureau, 93% of people in households with school-age children reported their children engaged in some form of “distance learning”.
Many schools and teachers had to quickly transition in-person instruction to remote digital teaching. It has become very important for teachers, students, and sometimes household members to be digitally literate to safely use technology to participate, apply and create, communicate, and also to use audio and video.
Other obstacles for learners are having the access to use technology and the Internet. Currently, the states and schools are making much efforts to close the gap between the digital divide and to improve online learning. For Black and Hispanic, and Indigionous communities, students continue to learn remotely. They are also less likely to have the support and equipment for online learning.
As many countries have been resuming in-person learning, the U.S. risks falling further behind relative to other nations. It is important for the country, state, and schools to find a sustainable solution to deal with the pandemic setbacks on education. The significant investment costs will be needed to provide more support for learners and to improve student learning loss. Every child deserves a chance to succeed.
Julie Liu MacNaughton, Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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