What are the Problems That Students are Most Likely to Face Once the School Reopens After the Coronavirus Pandemic?
by Aparajita Das,
July 17, 2020
Just as the brilliant rays of the morning always follow the darkest part of the night, the winter of this pandemic will also yield to the summer of our joys. The devastating effect on people’s lives due to coronavirus will pass and there will be a day with zero new coronavirus cases. The lives will go back to normal, students will start going to their institutions and businesses will reopen. But now the question arises, will life be the same? What will be the effect of lockdown on student’s mental and physical health and their education? What will be the problems faced once the school reopens after Coronavirus Pandemic?
We all know that by the end of March 2020 almost 185 countries closed their educational institutions to safeguard the students against the potential risk of deadly coronavirus. With the onset of coronavirus and lockdown came new challenges in the field of education. The situation demanded an immediate shift from physical education to online education. This has widened the equity gap as not every student is able to access devices and connectivity. Therefore, there is an uneven delivery of education to the students. Similarly, even teachers with good experiences are not very well equipped and comfortable with the devices to reinforce effective online learning. Students are losing the face to face and physical support of the teacher which is making it harder for them to clear their doubts or get personal attention. After lockdown, the teachers and students both will be able to overcome these crises in the process of acquiring online education but there will be other problems that are most likely to appear once the schools and other educational institutes reopen. Some of them are:
1) Post - Traumatic Stress:
During this lockdown, a lot of students are facing family stress and poverty due to their parent’s loss of jobs or reduced income. They have also seen or heard people around them falling ill. Many of the students are also reported to indulge in household chores during lockdown, especially girls. Some families are at their worst conditions, the rate of domestic abuses and violence are also increasing significantly. Moreover, poor children who used to play outside all day are now stuck in small rooms with less ventilation and exposure to sun and wind. The aforementioned factors can drain children mentally, emotionally and physically. Therefore, after the end of the coronavirus pandemic, it will be a difficult task for the teachers to provide social and emotional learning as the students will not only be needing learning support from the teachers but also a counselor and mental health specialist in the form of a teacher. Bringing every student back on the same track will be a new challenging job for teachers.
2) Equity Gaps:
Undeniably, the financial condition of all the houses in India is not the same. Rich students are exposed to various gadgets, electronic devices, and connectivity to access all the learning materials available online. Also, they can afford online courses and study materials to enhance their learning while others may not have educated parents or digital devices or resources to cope up with the fast running online quality teaching and education system. Therefore, it will be hard for teachers to fill this gap of knowledge between the students. Some students will be too prepared while some in spite of having talent will lack behind due to no exposure to technology.
3) Physical Inactivity:
To safeguard the lives of children and protect them from the deadly viruses, various other compromises with their health are done. As mentioned earlier, children are not found outside playing, laughing, shouting and running with their group of other children. They are packed at home spending hours watching television, or playing video games or looking at smartphones nonstop. Some children, having their own garden, do get little chance to come out and play but most of them especially the poor ones are becoming physically inactive in all these months. Once school reopens, it will be difficult for them to take part in games and sports. Children have now forgotten making circles and playing at the school's playground. Bringing them back to a normal level of activeness will require a lot of strategy and empowerment.
4) Shift From Online Education to Classroom Education:
Recently, the entire process of teaching has moved online after a lot of trials and errors. Teachers have now completely transformed notes into digital notes and are also conducting classes and solving queries on online platforms. Online education needs more planning, preparation and proper execution. Students are losing the teacher’s face to face support. They are also getting addicted to digital notes and thus after lockdown, it will be expected from teachers to do the same level of preparation as they are doing now. Therefore, teachers will be pressurized to provide digital learning materials, presentations along with quality teaching. Moreover, the advantages of online learning will be curated better and will be considered smart to use it widely.
Schools will reopen when it is safe for students to go back to school to continue with their education. The classes are more likely to move outdoors or in spacious classrooms to maintain social distancing. Providing facilities like water and hygiene will be the topmost priority in order to maintain hygiene, handwashing and respiratory etiquette. Every school will ensure the safety of students and quality education. But extra support from parents will also be needed in helping students cope up with studies. Parents are needed to dedicate a certain amount of time to help students catch up the speed and give them extra support if they feel frustrated or anxious. It is important to stick to a normal routine if you don’t want things to get complicated once lives get back to normal. However, it is believed that the reopening of schools after this pandemic will automatically solve most of the problems and commitment to classrooms will promote diversity and inclusivity. From now on, the traditional education system and online education system will go hand in hand as the need for digital development has proved this lockdown.