COVID-19 has caused the closing down of schools across the globe, affecting almost 1.3 billion children. Schools have been shut down several times before in history in the wake of epidemics and natural disasters.
Katrina Hurricane in 2005 destroyed almost 100 public schools, and others stayed closed for weeks. Similarly, the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic resulted in school closures and affected nearly 5 million school-going children across West Africa. Schools across Australia were shut down in 2009, as a result of bushfires. Hence, there are examples of similar incidents happening in history, and the studies have it that children have not performed very well academically once the schools reopened.
This time around, the schools are shut down globally, and almost 1.3 billion children are affected. Most of the schools have shifted to a pattern of online teaching but this does not cover up for the fact that poor children will still be suffering at the hands of this shutdown. According to analytics, rich children studying in top private schools of the country have access to the best learning facilities, gadgets, and high-speed Internet. Poor children, on the other hand, belonging to rural villages do not have access to such kinds of facilities, especially those who belong to third world countries. It is said that working-class students are known to be spending less time studying. Around an hour a day to be exact.
Of all the data at hand from previous occasions when schools were shut down for a definite period, the students who were affected were less likely to graduate than those who were not affected. According to Sam Sims, a research fellow at the UCL Institute of Education, “When people don’t go to school, they don’t learn as much, and the longer they’re not at school for the more they don’t learn.”
At times, it is not just about staying away from books for longer periods. These disasters and epidemics also have a mental effect on children. This time around the schools are closed for an indefinite amount of time, and social distancing has already resulted in mental illnesses among people.
There are a few countries that have started reopening schools, however, it is hard to say right now if it is the best decision. But whatever the long-term impacts of this pandemic are on the school children, it is safe to say that the lockdown situations across the globe will give the researchers sufficient data to research on the role that schools play in our society.