Five months on from the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and policymakers and public health officials have decided it’s time to return to the classroom. Around the world, schools and colleges are preparing for a new semester, and though environments may be different, one thing is clear: teachers and students will be depending on technology more than ever.
LEARNING IN TIMES OF THE CORONAVIRUS
Over the past few months, teaching bodies and school administrators have been fiercely debating the safety of reopening schools in the United States. And it’s a similar picture in other countries. In April, an eye-watering 1.5 billion students around the world were sent home from school for an early summer break, and whilst some have been trialing new ways of learning, others have pulled the plug entirely, with kids going without lessons or contact time for almost six months. With September just around the corner, the pressure is mounting for schools and educational institutions to reopen their doors, with countries like the United Kingdom promising that schools will be given a priority above any potential future lockdown. One of the biggest stumbling blocks in reopening schools safely is the lack of reliable information on just how easily young people can catch and spread the virus. Although some doctors have suggested children cannot easily transmit the virus, clusters of cases have been reported, stemming from schools and nurseries in countries like Australia - and even in summer camps in the United States. At one camp alone, more than 250 children tested positive for COVID-19, demonstrating the potential danger.
There lies the dilemma: some people believe that, until a COVID-19 vaccine has been developed, schools and colleges should remain closed. Others argue that there’s no real guarantee a vaccine will ever be available, and delaying the reopening of schools could cause huge challenges down the line. A paper in 2009 suggested that school closure could disrupt healthcare systems, as doctors and nurses would struggle to find affordable childcare. Factories, too, could shut down as a result of prolonged absenteeism from staff due to childcare issues, which could be catastrophic in some cases, particularly in food and medicine. One of the biggest concerns amongst parents and governments is that prolonged school closures could widen the education gap, and in some parts of the world, children rely on school for safety and food. In the United Kingdom, it was reported that around three million children were at risk of going hungry in the holidays.
BLENDED LEARNING MODELS
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