Schools are more than just educational institutions and are imperative to the health, wellbeing, and safety of students. COVID-19 and school closures that follow are threatening student’s physical and mental well-being says Whitney Cross
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, schools all around the world have closed and moved online to curb and reduce the spread of the virus. Needless to say, the closure of physical classes have had a massive impact on students. It has disrupted their learning and made them fall behind the curriculum.
COVID-19, school closures and loss in learning.
UNICEF estimates that students all over the world have lost over 1.8 trillion hours of in-person learning since the pandemic began. And these numbers continue to increase, with schools still closed in many countries.
As per the United Nations, this loss in learning has exacerbated pre-existing disparities in education, with many vulnerable learners, children, young people, and adults included, being more adversely impacted. Their ability to continue their learning and educational opportunities have been greatly reduced because of the pandemic.
These losses in learning have the potential to erase the decades of progress made to address educational disparities, particularly for the support of girls and women’s access to and retention of education.
More than education.
Education and learning of the students are not the only things impacted by the closure of schools. Closure of schools also restricts students and their communities from several provisions and essential services that the schools offer.
ACAPS (2020) has estimated that more than 370 million students, in more than 195 countries, have missed out on the free nutritious meals provided by their schools leaving many children hungry. Lack of access to a safe and protective space has increased the risks of child marriage, violence, and exploitation in many communities across the world.
Addressing The Digital divide.
Covid-19 and school closures have shown how important it is for students to have access to physical classes by exposing a brutal digital divide.
Students are missing out on both in-person and online learning opportunities putting them at a higher risk of falling behind. One way to help address this technological gap in education is for governments to invest in digital infrastructure and to reduce the cost of connectivity so that these barriers can be reduced and/or removed.
The pandemic has shown that schools are more than just educational institutions. These institutions are imperative to the health, wellbeing, and safety of students, and are information and social engagement hubs for families and communities.
Whitney is a social work student at the University of Tasmania, in Australia. She is passionate about LGBTQIA+ rights and girls' right to education. In her free time, she enjoys reading, playing video games and travelling.