The Effects of COVID-19 on Education

The ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic has had numerous negative effects on education, particularly the socio-economic issues effecting the access to it and the growing mental health crisis.

The pandemic has shown inequality in the way students have been affected and to what extent. Students living below the poverty line have been more greatly affected then those above it, according to the Pew Research Center. There have also been effects on the rate of educational achievement; because of schools being forced to shut down in March of 2020 to slow the spread of COVID-19, students were likely not learning the same amount of information they would have if they had continued with in-person learning.

In May 2020, the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University produced an article that suggested the potential impacts COVID-19 could have on education. At the time this article was produced, it wasn’t known that many schools would remain closed almost a year later.

The institute predicted declines in learning and gaining skills in the subjects of math and reading. However, they also predicted in this article that the top one-third of students would show an increase in reading skill; this would increase the difference between students in education rates. This data did not account for the possibility for schools remaining closed during the 2020-2021 school year. Amy Bintliff of the University of California at San Diego suggested that the reality of how students must spend their schoolyear can be challenging, because it is different from their expectations.

Remote learning has also shown a new problem--not all students have access to adequate computer and internet service. In 2015, Pew Research Center conducted a study that showed that 17 percent of students struggled in completing homework because they did not have readily available access to computers and/or internet. The same study also indicated this issue increased to 25 percent concerning African American students.

Amidst the ongoing pandemic, data from the Infectious Diseases Society of America has shown that because of COVID-19, African American, Native American, and Hispanic communities have been harder hit by the economic impact and have also had higher infection rates than other communities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has officially recognized that educational inequities have become more severe because of the pandemic; it noted that this could have long term effects, including the possibility of fewer future job opportunities for communities affected.

There have also been implications that have impacted the mental health of students; this is a part of the growing mental health crisis spurred on by the pandemic. Growing mental health concerns in students likely come from the increased stress caused by being isolated from others and having to attend school from home. The National Institute of Mental Health is currently conducting a study to determine how significant the impact of COVID-19 has been.

The CDC has suggested to begin to solve these increasing problems, communities should continue to support and stay connected with others in the community; additionally, these communities should keep both mental and physical health in check and staying informed about the ongoing situation.

Youki Terada, a research and standards editor at Edutopia, emphasized that teachers are at the center of solving the issues on the education side. Terada recommended that teachers put the relationships with their students first and adjust their lesson plans and assignments for all students at risk of falling behind in school. He also encouraged teachers to give tests to students that can help determine how they are doing and what kind of help they may need.

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