There is no question whether COVID-19 has had a huge impact on school systems worldwide, and it will have a lasting effect on schools and learning for a long time to come. Of course, the Coronavirus isn’t the first disaster to significantly impact teaching institutions, but this is the first time in history that all learning institutions around the country and world have been affected by the same event and at the same time.
Nobody worldwide was prepared to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The education systems are no different have taken massive hits throughout the last year. The School system has never faced this sort of extended closure they are facing now with the epidemic. While this is undoubted quite the struggle, there are also many essential lessons they are learning every day.
What are some of the long-term impacts COVID-19 may have on schools?
Worldwide there are about 1.2 billion children in 186 countries who have been affected by school shutdowns. Many children have adapted to online learning, and many wonder if in-person learning will ever go back to normal. Some research suggests that online school may be more beneficial in some areas, including increasing information retention.
Some believe that the quick jump to online learning that no one was prepared for was such a bad experience for so many that it will have long-term negative effects on learning. Others believe the benefits received from this option for learning far outweigh the bad. Some studies find that those who have access to the right technologies may learn more effectively a few ways, a higher percentage of information retention, and learn more at their own pace.
Unreliable internet connection has been a significant challenge for many students. The child’s age also plays a significant role in online learning’s effectiveness because younger children get distracted easier. One report found that depending on these variables, and students could lose up to 3% of their lifetime income due to the lost education during the coronavirus.
By all indications, it appears that parents’ availability, soft skills, and resources will play a huge role in how well the students will learn at home and how much their future will be affected by the COVID-19 virus.
Will any of the popular learning models persist after the pandemic?
Video conferencing prevented a complete closing of schools worldwide and helped keep students in touch with teachers and peers virtually.
We learned about virtual learning during the pandemic will have a positive and lasting impact in the future.
Processes that would have taken years for school systems to roll out were up and running, almost overnight. Though most were off to a shaky start and there are still many things to work out, they need to move so quickly has put many ahead by years.
The pandemic has led many school systems to break away from practices that have grown stagnant over the years and begin trying new learning approaches.
Some major disruptions can lead to major advancement. Some experts believe school systems will gain many improvements in the way they teach students.
The students of 2019 and 2020 entered territory that no students before they had ever faced before. During the pandemic, they transferred from in-person school to online learning. Online learning has proven to have many benefits and some negatives. Still, it will probably be an option that remains, in at least some form, long after the pandemic.
- One benefit offered by online learning is the option of leaning at the comfort of their own home
- Some research shows that students perform better when doing online learning
- Online learning allows more of an opportunity for students to learn at their own pace while also thinking more deeply and critically
- Students and parents have more control over their own learning process
There are disadvantages, and some of those include:
- All teachers not having access to needed tools- Since the schools had to transition to online learning so quickly, many teachers had to adjust their curriculum and are struggling with increased workloads
- Cybersecurity has also been an issue; schools around the country have had to deal with an issue of online hackers breaking into their online learning platforms
Hybrid schooling allows fewer students to be in the classroom at one time so that social distancing is possible. However, there have been many problems with hybrid learning, and this form of learning probably won’t last after the pandemic, according to some experts.
Hybrid learning doesn’t help parents with the issue of lack of child care, so kids are sent to centers instead, which may lead them to more of a chance of coming in contact with someone who has the virus.
Hybrid schedules don’t necessarily reduce the number of students that each teacher comes in contact with daily. Teachers may be as susceptible as if normal classes were being held, which raises the possibility of spreading the virus to other students.
On the positive side, they give the children a little bit of human reaction outside of their household.
Homeschooling is the educating of children at home and has been in practice for many years. Homeschooling can be conducted by parents, tutors, or online teachers, whichever is the best fitting for each family.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been a spike in parents looking at homeschooling as an alternative to regular in-person schools. States countrywide have seen a massive jump in numbers in the homeschooling applications received from parents. Some of them are concerned about the quality of distance learning their school system can provide, while many others were already considering homeschooling before the pandemic began. According to many who are currently homeschooling, some of the benefits include:
- Less distraction from other students
- Homeschooling offers more educational freedom and gives parents more control over what their children are taught
- Many students learn how to become self-motivated at a younger age
- Your child can move quickly through assignments that are easily for them and spend more time on difficult tasks rather than following along with everyone in the classroom
- Parents are allowed to build stronger relationships with their children
While there are positive aspects of homeschooling, there are also negative. Some of the negatives of homeschooling include:
- Less social interaction with peers
- Parents must be able to each a broad range of subjects
- Generally less structure in homeschooling than public school
It is more than likely still too early to tell which form of schooling has the most or least positive impacts on students, and there probably won’t be any sure way to tell until later down the road and through student testing and ability data.
Will more families have additional school options available because of Covid-19?
Parents are not only looking for homeschool options but they are also considering other in-person options. School voucher programs offer parents more choices in what school their child attends. Parents receive funds from the state to use toward private school, or in some cases, they may choose to use the money for homeschooling. Vouchers have been a topic of controversy in many communities. Thus, many parents are looking towards alternate forms of public education, such as magnet and charter schools.
Both magnet and charter schools have gained popularity during the pandemic. They are smaller schools with fewer students, and additional funding has made it more possible to offer safe in-class instruction in many cases. In cases where in-person classes isn’t an option, the additional allowance has made it possible to provide a higher quality of online learning to its students.
According to a recent report released in October of 2020, ranking the best schools based on exams and all around grades, magnet and charter schools made up over half of the list. Magnet schools are public schools with specialized courses and offer students and their parents a different kind of education. They offer elementary, middle, and high school level education options. Though they are still considered public schools, many magnet schools have a competitive entrance process. At the same time, some offer an entrance exam then have a sort of lottery approach to deciding on new students.
According to many schools, learning has not been slowed at magnet schools by the pandemic or distance learning. A major difference between magnet/charter schools and regular public schools is that magnet and charter schools receive additional funding to maintain the specialized programs they offer. That additional funding has been detrimental during the COVID-19 virus.
Low-income kids affected negatively the most during the pandemic
During these unprecedented times, many low-income families have had to choose between buying food and paying rent. It’s no surprise that kids from lower-income families would be most negatively affected by the virus. Low-income families are more likely to have unreliable internet service. Parents often aren’t available to help with classes as they may be in homes with higher incomes. Many of these kids have even been taking classes on parents’ smartphones as they have no other options.
These factors are even more of an issue when talking about kids with special needs. Many of them aren’t getting the help they need to succeed. Income level has been shown to play a big role in major aspects that lead to success in home learning. According to parents, there are major differences in how much guidance from schools is being given to high income and low-income families. Low-income families are only receiving some instruction, according to many.
Will the pandemic result in an impact on teachers’ unions?
Teachers countrywide have fought for longer school closures and more stringent safety requirements. Teacher’s unions have been detrimental in helping them in this fight. While unions have been of immense help to teachers around the country, they have also faced massive amounts of blow-back from politicians and parents who want to get their children back to in-person classrooms. The teacher’s unions have been fearful of teachers safely returning to schools too quickly and have successfully slowed the reopenings. They have continually stated that the teachers want to get back to class, but only when it’s safe. Many support teachers and the teacher unions in this as safety in the classroom will remain unknown until a vaccination has become available.
Many say unions were made stronger by President Trump’s insistence on getting back to the classrooms despite the virus spiraling out of control. Many who had not previously sided with teacher unions have now stood with them, calling Trump’s plans to get back as soon as possible reckless.
Still, some believe teacher unions have grown too powerful and are influenced too much by politics. The importance of the role unions will play in the future is still unknown, but many believe new Democratic leadership will positively impact their future.
There is no doubt the effects of Covid-19 will be felt for many years to come. This effect will be felt more so in school systems with lower-income families as they don’t have the means to offer the same resources high-income families can provide for their students. The extent of learning loss will depend on many things and vary significantly based on the students’ having access to the right tools.
On the flip side of this, there has been the introduction of many tools that were barely in the works, if at all, before Covid-19 and were released almost overnight and put our school systems ahead in many areas they wouldn’t have dreamed of this time last year. We will have to wait and see which changes last and the true long term effects on school systems, students, and teachers alike. All in all, Many experts believe that although students at the top full-time virtual schools can do as well or even better than in-person classes, most students will fare far better once in-person classes return to normal, whatever that new normal may be.