Students, their parents and educators are feeling the extraordinary ripple effect of the novel coronavirus as schools shut down and quarantine methods are ordered amidst the public health emergency. In this series, we want to share best practices from our community and how our educators and innovators are managing school shutdowns, distance learning and more.
The concept of education seems to have changed overnight. From in-school to remote and online learning, we have all seen the effects of this quick change, especially students. We asked HundrED Youth Ambassadors to share what their schools and governments are doing in light of the new mandates as well as how they are feeling. Here is what they had to say:
Liam Davis-Bosch, 17, United States
I live in New York but go to school internationally. The coronavirus has impacted my life in both of these areas. I was supposed to finish my year and graduate in Greece which is currently being postponed and possibly canceled. The thought that I might not see my friends again, who live all around the world, devastates me and is something that I am having a hard time grappling with. This virus has altered me and so many other school-age kids' lives and it is anything but fair, although it is something that we will have to get through regardless of how difficult it may be.
In New York City, the coronavirus has impacted things drastically. Despite the high number of cases and lack of testing available, public schools have still not closed. People are understandably very angry about this. One argument that I believe is valid and we need to take into account is that we are putting at-risk children without a place to go in the day and who do not have breakfast and lunch available. I believe we need to follow the example of parts in North Carolina and other places who decided to close the school but have a drive-through which supplies meals for children. I would say that right now we need to band together and take all precautionary measures to make sure that we don’t go past the limit that hospitals and health care workers can handle. These precautions need to happen sooner rather than later. I think that it is easy for able-bodied and non-vulnerable populations to say that it will be fine but they are not the ones who will be impacted the hardest. We need to look out for the elderly and young, people with chronic illnesses, and those that have underlying conditions.
This means staying home and stopping the spread of this virus while we can. We need New York City and the Department of Education to support us in this by following the lead of so many other countries and cities and close to protect our children and citizens.
Ruhan Anjan Kartik, 16, Finland
Finland has declared a state of emergency, schools are closed till the 13th of April, a pandemic has struck the whole world.
Let's break this down to find out what is actually going on, for the situation is neither desperately lost or decisively won.
I always believe in going day by day, which is a rule many can attest I have lived by, because whether corona is here or not, life will move on, and one has to look positively at every opportunity and discussion because the crux of this issue is reducing fear and taming oneself to become domestic for a while, even though the lions may not fancy it.
The current situation stands with learning moving to online on the academic side, and with seniors in high school demanded to take their matriculation exam within a week. There have been many technical difficulties as well as moral ones for the other students, many may claim that we stand poorly.
I have always looked at squeezing the good out of the bad, and many might feel I am squeezing a dry towel, but in reality, it is damp. From this, I learn how countries and leaders, be it developed, under-developed or whatever, react to such a situation in order to ensure the safety of their citizens. I learn the art of having a meaningful conversation or discussion without physical proximity. I learn how to become more flexible to be able to better adapt to the situation at hand, and how collaboration need not be done holding hands together, but also by holding hearts.
Many suffer the impending reality of not being able to travel, in order to be with their parents or aging family, and this is, in fact, more than unfortunate, however, the closer we look at such issues, we realize it springs from an innate fear, not from viruses and germs. Now, fear is like electricity, we can tame it, but never should we play with it. There are small ways to do this, by making sure you and your kin take care of hygiene, eat healthily, and breathe the fresh air, when one is allowed to, to circulate positivity and thoughts that bring back joyful memories. It may not work for everyone, but as time goes by, we will find our method of mental healing, to tame this fear.
We are living in an extraordinary time...
...as much as it is disturbing and worrying, it is exciting and thought-provoking, for one doesn't know what the future beholds.
Ishani Ashok, 16, United States
Schools in the Bay Area have closed since last week. And as of this week, all schools in the United States will be closing. At first, students seemed to be ‘happy’ about it, thinking it would be a nice break to regain our sleep schedule and mental health. But this was not the case. Many students are bored at home, not being able to see their friends, and overloaded with assignments. This is putting a major halt on everyone’s education. Personally, my school is one of the last schools to start the school year, already putting us behind most of the other high schools. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have less school time this year than we normally do.
Currently, most of my teachers are assigning homework to turn online instead, to keep fuelling our learning. Though I have many resources to do assignments (such as a printer, laptop, and phone) I know many of my peers do not. They are having a hard time keeping up with the lessons and homework assigned. In addition to this, many students rely on the school to get lunch provided. Because of school closures, they are not able to have a meal. Fortunately, many restaurants and fast-food chains such as Subway has stepped up to provide free meals to these students. Through these hard times, it is refreshing to see the good in humanity.
Some practices that I wish my school would do include not assigning us with an overload of homework. All the teachers are currently assuming that we are on break and we don't have a lot going on.
But personally, this is a very difficult time for me because of all the uncertainty and it would be nice for our teachers not to give us homework thinking that we are on break.
Since all the teachers are individually thinking the other teachers aren't assigning us homework they are assigning us more homework than we usually get. For example, in my History and English classes, we used to never get homework but now I'm getting more homework from these classes than my math and science classes.
The little things that teachers can do would be to talk to us about what's happening and reassure us that we are not alone.
Vrinda Gandhi, 16, India
Our schools have been closed down till the 31st, but classes who still have their board exams going on (X and XII) have to take their tests. Recently, I also came to know that my Tuition centre will also be closed.
No online class facility is being provided, even though in some parts of India it is available.
I’m worried about the syllabus that will be left out and should have been covered this month, now educators will have to rush and it will be stressful for us, the students to cover it all as well.
I’m trying to not go outside (if it’s not necessary) and wash hands regularly.
People shouldn’t trust social media directly and make assumptions. They should first check the facts and read the guidelines directly given by well-known organizations like the WHO or the UN. I think online classes are a really good solution to cope up with the loss of time that we are facing.
Wilma Engström, 18, Finland
All schools in the country are or are being shut down and education is now supposed to be provided online even for 1-6th graders. Daycares/kindergartens are not being shut down but all kids are encouraged to stay home.
Matriculation examinations for the third-year high schoolers are what helps us get into a university, which means they are the most important exams in our life so far.
Due to the Coronavirus, we were first left in the dark and unsure if we were going to have to write the exams, last minute we were told we would have to take them a week in advance. This completely ruined any kind of study plan we had.
Some people are forced to write a 6-hour exam every day this week, which is extremely mentally challenging. Everyone is stressed and some people are making the decision to not write all the exams they need in order to focus on the most important ones.
We did not receive any kind of help or counselling from the school, some schools sent out an article on how to cope with stress.
I understand that the options limited between this option or not to graduate (exams are compulsory so if you haven’t taken them you don’t graduate in the spring) and they chose the better option among two bad ones.
Most of us were kind of disappointed to not get any kind of help in this awfully stressful situation.
Pranjal Aggarwal, 16, India
I am a school student. Due to the outbreak of coronavirus, I, as a student, have suffered a lot. I am studying in 12th standard presently which is very crucial as it has a major impact on all our future decisions relating to our career.
In view of the evolving situation of COVID-19, the following measures have been provided by the Indian government:
- Include a capsule on the Novel Coronavirus in all the meetings, programmer and activities conducted in the school.
- Share updates on precautionary measures from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare GOI, IFRC and WHO with everyone.
- Advise all staff members, volunteers and students to ensure self-protection while delivering messages and services.
- Promote the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, advocate proper and regular hand washing and use of protective masks among all.
Since the schools in India are closed till 31st March 2020, some schools are providing e-tutorials.
Moreover, the Prime Minister of India called for 'People's Curfew'-a self-imposed curfew on 22 March 2020, after which it became a country-wide 21-day lockdown.
The Government of India has decided to constitute COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force under Finance Minister. The task force will remain in regular touch with all stakeholders, take their feedback and make decisions accordingly.
We thank our HundrED Youth Ambassadors Liam, Ruhan, Vrinda, Wilma, Ishani & Pranjal for sharing what is happening in their context and how they are feeling. For more articles, innovations & resources, head to our Educator Toolkit especially designed to support educators & parents during this COVID-19 outbreak.