• Sabrina Espinoza

Education in a Covid-19 World

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

What began as a year full of anticipation and excitement quickly became one of panic and confusion as coronavirus cases rose rapidly in the US. Restaurants and shops closed one by one. Malls and theaters shut their doors. But the biggest change was when millions of students were forced to adjust to a remote education as schools closed nationwide.

Although schools made their best effort to provide online learning to students, was this system enough to make up for our cut-off education? While it’s true that online learning allowed students to continue assignments at home and communicate with teachers through programs (Zoom, Meet, etc.), there was still a myriad of issues surrounding this method.

One issue was the varying access to technology and internet, two things that were almost vital for online learning. Many schools sent homework and recorded lectures through tools like Google Classroom; how could a student access these without a laptop or wifi? Even if these students received paper-assignments before the closures, they lose the ability to communicate with teachers online, preventing them from getting the help or explanations they need. Because some schools were unable to supply their students with computers and wifi, thousands of teens were left without teacher aid and a pile of assignments for the rest of the semester.

Another problem was the lack of student engagement: some students would neglect to finish online assignments or not participate in class meetings. I saw this in my own school, with less and less of my classmates joining the ‘mandatory’ meetings as the weeks passed. An aspect that contributed to this behavior was the changing grade policies in schools. Because students could not have their grades lowered by skipping assignments and meetings, some decided to never engage with either of the two. This caused these students to potentially miss out on large amounts of information and important units that they still needed to learn. How could almost a semester’s worth of knowledge be taught to the disengaged students in the fall? How could they make up all those lost assignments and unlearned topics?

Many other issues, such as hackers who disrupted meetings, teachers who gave an unmanageable amount of homework, chaotic home environments, and internet problems, were also present during online learning. While its amazing that our schools have worked tirelessly to provide us with remote learning, these problems reveal why school closures have hindered our education. Many students have become unmotivated and overwhelmed throughout the entire process.

Will schools even be able to resume normal learning in the fall? I'm not sure but it seems unlikely: with some people more concerned about going to the beach and not wanting to suffer the torture of wearing a mask, a 'defeat' against the virus seems far off.