A necessary measure to ensure students’ safety, but what are the downsides?
Sha Terrell, January 15, 2021
According to the New York Times, since the global pandemic outbreak, there have been 30.5 million cases worldwide, and the United States accounts for 10.1 million of those cases. The number of people who are affected by COVID-19 increases every day. As the virus continues to spread, there has been an uptick in the case. Various measures have been put into place to slow the spread or until the virus can be eradicated. Currently, there is great uncertainty surrounding the possibility of completely removing the virus.
While COVID-19 rages on, many schools have shifted to distance learning in order to comply with social distancing rules and to fight the virus’s spread. Many parents have children in grade levels K-12 schools who are concerned about potential exposure, so one can only imagine how much distance learning has been a godsend.
However, some challenges that come with home learning are mounting on many teachers, parents, and students. They must adapt to online learning that could either have a seamless transition or a rocky shift.
One parent says:
I feel like there was a sudden change from my children being among their peers to completely being socially isolated. By pulling my kids out of school, I’ve had to separate them from society. I’ve noticed that my children now suffer from depression. Their mental health is now compromised. Not to mention, as a working parent, the quick adjustment without time for planning for distance learning makes maintaining a suitable work scheduling hard. I have to make sure they are attending their classes and that can be a challenge. I have struggled to get resources for my kids that will help them learn from home now that most schools in America have switched to online learning.
To be frank, let’s also talk about parents’ mental health. Some parents (myself included) need a mental break, you know? I think some parents sending kids to school were able to have a small an escape from their kids.
-Kendra P., mother of 8th and 3rd grade students.
Another parent says:
It’s hard to keep up with my grandsons’ schoolwork. This new technology, I already had a hard time with it. But now? I only feel like I’m failing my grandsons. Since the lockdowns began, they’ve started to fall behind in their classes. Their teachers contact me to let me know these things, what they’re doing and what they’re not doing. It’s frustrating because my grandsons will tell me that they’ve done their work, but they haven’t. I fear that if the schools ever open back up, the kids will be behind because they refuse to do their work now.
-Nicky R., grandmother of 6th and 12th grade students.
The examples above are what many parents are going through as distance learning is slowly becoming the norm. So many parents, students, and teachers, have had turned their worlds upside down because of distance learning. The pandemic that has made its way worldwide has only shown us that being able to adapt quickly is necessary as uncertainty continues to grow around the effects of Covid-19.
Every day, students may feel less motivated and could quickly lose interest in their work. The misconception that schoolwork would be easier leads students down a fractious path which makes it impossible for students to catch up.
But who knows? Even though some students had no prior experience before the pandemic, other children were no strangers to distance learning before the impact of COVID-19. After the pandemic is contained, parents who have grown accustomed to their children learning from home may prefer this style of learning. Sure, there are cons that come along with distance learning, but there are some pros as well. Let’s think about how bullying has been an issue with traditional schooling for so such a long time (not that cyberbullying is nonexistent). With students learning from home, parents have the advantage to intervene when their children are being attacked. Experienced online students are thriving because distance learning can be as good or even better than in-person classes. Students can have more control over the way they learn with online learning. Some experts have stated that excelling with online learning does not come from the curriculum itself, but rather from the eager students who actively engage with the content, as well as their teachers and their peers.
In the end, when COVID-19 is under control, distance learning just might be here to stay and widely available for parents and students who prefer online learning over in-person schooling.