Authors: Jacob Liu and Doris Tan
Editors: Tiffany Chen, Joyce Hai, Demi Leng, Ethan Liu, Kira Tian, Molly Zhao, Leon Zhou Artist: Doris Tan
Education sets the foundation for the general quality of the younger generation, which in turn establishes the basis of society. Therefore, studying is one of the most important parts of one’s childhood. However, with the sudden emergence of COVID-19, education systems all around the world have been abruptly disrupted. Most schools have shut down and adapted different methods of education, such as digitized learning. COVID-19 has led to online teaching platforms which changed the learning experience for many students. For students to return to campus soon, schools must also have proper protection measures.
In the United States, schools experienced forced closures and started virtual teaching on online platforms like Zoom, Google Classroom, or Meet; this switch of education method has induced many other insidious problems. In 48 states, four US territories, and the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) has ordered school building closures for the remainder of the academic year. The forced closures, due to COVID-19, have affected at least 124,000 US public and private schools and at least 55.1 million students. Additionally, many schools have changed their grading systems for the remainder of the school year; some have even completely forgone the midterm and final exams. One grading system many schools have switched to is the pass and fail system, a system where students’ final grades would only be pass or fail, rather than a letter grade. Furthermore, COVID-19 has also exposed the disparity in student resources: up to 70% of the teachers assign homework through the internet and 65% of the students accomplish and submit their homework through the internet. However, about 5 million households with school-age children do not have access to broadband internet.
China, being the first country that encountered COVID-19, has turned the traditional teaching model into an online teaching model and major exams have been delayed. Under the influence of the pandemic, the Education Department of Guangdong issued a report, and immediately afterward, schools in Guangdong changed their teaching method. On January 27th, 2020, the Education Bureau officially issued a notice requesting the 2020 spring semester be extended.
Besides, the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China announced a one-month delay for the Gaokao, more commonly known as the National College Entrance Examination of China. The students who have originally roomed and boarded at schools returned home, and around 270 million students moved to online learning. To combat the potential difficulties that may have ensued after the online curriculum, teachers, and students have made their way through these difficulties by the means of advanced technology. For example, Shengshi middle school of Guangzhou proposed that teachers will teach via online lectures and students should participate by using the microphone as well as through a class group chat. On April 9th, 2020, the Guangdong COVID-19 Prevention and Control Headquarters decided that students from schools located in the Guangdong province would return to their physical classrooms in phases starting on April 27th. This shows that the Chinese educational system is gradually turning back to normal operation.
Denmark was one of the first countries to reopen schools. The central government made the decision and the National Board of Health issued specific guidelines and rules for schools to follow. Denmark decided to open primary schools for small children first, on April 15th, as evidence shows that kids do not play a significant role in the spread of the virus. By May 18th, students in grades up to 10th grade had returned to school. Specific measures were taken to ensure students, faculties, and their families’ safety. To name a few, classes of about 20 were divided into small sections of about five to eight and could be held outside, students washed their hands every two hours, parents dropped off students at spread out times. The Danish have been very successful and careful with the reopening, and up until now, no negative impacts nor increases in the amount of infection have been shown in Denmark. The smooth reopening allowed Danish children and teenagers to gain quality education again, and they engaged much more enthusiastically than they did during online classes.
Upon the spread of COVID-19, countries around the world had to change their education systems and lifestyles of students and teachers drastically. The US government and administrators have been trying their best to keep up the quality of the students’ academic endeavors remotely and hope to resume the classroom environment in early September. China, which experienced the pandemic earlier, is starting to let students return to campus and resume traditional teaching. And although the virus spread to Denmark later than China, Denmark has also successfully begun to return to in-person learning. This shows that with precautions and rules are set and followed strictly, many countries around the world will be able to start reopening schools sooner or later. Nevertheless, COVID-19 has undoubtedly affected students’ schoolwork, workload, and work efficiency immensely, and it would take lots of effort from the government, schools, and families together to help students gain engaging and meaningful education again.