The Corona Virus pandemic has stalled a lot of activities across the world and many governments have closed down schools in a bid to reduce the rate at which the virus spreads. In the United States, many students have been affected by the closure of almost all schools in the country. More schools are scheduled to close in the near future and with there being no fixed time when a vaccine to the disease is expected to be found, the education system will no doubt suffer a lot of negative effects. However, shutting down schools was not the only option and it was unnecessary since the school management could have taken more effective steps to keep the students in school while reducing the chances of any infections.
Compared to closing schools during past global crises, such as the Spanish flu in 1918, closing schools in the current century has more education disruptions than it had then. In the past 50 years, the school has become the main feature of child growth in both education and national childcare in all countries of the world (Carroll, 2020). Most governments around the world closed down schools with the argument that children are a present and clear danger in cases where influenza is involved. However, it is not confirmed that the studies apply to the coronavirus infection rates hence closing schools was not a good move to make.
Effects of Closing down the Schools
Education will be disrupted a lot because, despite many schools arguing that the students will learn using online means, not all learners have access to the internet in their homes. Larger percentages also do not have devices such as computers that they can use to access the internet and other learning materials (Carroll, 2020). Missing a semester or two will be a hit to education systems across the world because students will take a lot of time to catch up where they left before the virus emerged.
Another reason why closing schools was unnecessary is that over 1.5 million students are homeless and know schools to be a safe haven for them (Dingwall, 2020). With schools being closed, many such children are in the streets and this is most likely going to increase the rate of crime in many countries as such children try to survive and get a meal. Almost 30 million children in the United States rely on school lunch programs with almost half of them depending on the programs for breakfast too (Dingwall, 2020). The closing of schools with no necessary steps taken to continue with the program will make them go hungry.
Many children cannot stay home alone and they are in turn left unsupervised or watched by people who are not their parents (Dingwall, 2020). Intergenerational contacts are the most dangerous in such a case as a lot of the students at home have ended up in the hands of their grandparents and due to their trend of moving out of the house and playing with other children, they place their grandparents at risk of contracting the illness.
For those parents that do not have anyone to look after their children, they are forced to stop going to work and care for their children. Skipping work becomes a problem especially for parents who are health care workers (Dingwall, 2020). A possibility of shortages of health care workers is expected as most of them who are parents will prefer staying and caring for their children at home to going to work. Closing the schools will create shortages of nurses and health care workers when they are needed most.
Meeting the needs of their children will make working from home for the parents hard due to the disturbances that the children cause. The inability of parents to work will affect the whole economy and an under-performing economy is most likely to be realized with health and mortality receiving the largest blow (Strauss, 2020). Children staying at home for months will make them start mixing in spaces that are not designed for them. Such mixing is evidence that closing schools do not help to block transmission of coronavirus rather it will introduce new health and safety risks as friends, neighbors, and grandparents step in to help care for the children at home.
Children do not have visible symptoms of the coronavirus even though they are affected. The situation is different from the influenza virus that happened a century ago hence closing schools did not benefit directly the affected children (Strauss, 2020). The closures have immediate costs because they deprive the students of an opportunity to get immune to the virus. Children that have any type of disability are unable to access environments that are more comfortable than most of their homes (Strauss, 2020). The teachers and other staff members of the schools are at more risks from outside of their school lives than from the schools as they mix with children in the class.
With parents unable to care for their parents at home as they go to work or work from home, the children will most likely turn to electronic devices to spend their days and this will cause addiction, social media bullying and on worse cases access to immoral behaviors (Hess, 2020). Away from electronic devices, the children will search for places to meet with others and this increases chances of involving themselves with drug users and criminals hence drug abuse and criminal activities will be on the rise in the coming months. Teen pregnancy rates will also increase and causes many students to drop out of school after the pandemic is dealt with (Hess, 2020).
Alternative Options to Shutting Down the Schools
With better screening and testing procedures, it is possible to keep schools open while protecting the children from infections (Hess, 2020). The teachers and administrators should implement necessary measures to curb the spread of the virus among students while allowing them to continue learning. Some of the measures that the school administration can take include increasing cleaning in and around the schools, frequent hand washing of the students and the school staff to ensure that surfaces in the school are free from infections, and canceling some classes like gym classes to reduce a lot of close contacts (Hess, 2020).
Another way that the teachers and administration can reduce the chances of students getting infected by the virus is through ensuring an increase in the physical distance among the students through a split of the desks and prohibiting them from mixing in common and enclosed areas (Hess, 2020). The schools could also have been kept open had the administration set strategies to limit visitors from the outside getting into the school, canceling all field trips until the virus is dealt with, and banning all social events as long as they are not essential and can be postponed to a later date.
Schools should not be closed unless they are unable to safely take care of the students and teachers. If staff sickness rates increase, retired teachers, community volunteers, and trainees should be brought in to the school. Their involvement with the children will be visible in leadership and supervision. Staying open is the largest contribution that schools will make in helping people get through the crisis as they are the childminding services of the nations.
Carroll, A. (2020). Is Closing the Schools a Good Idea? Nytimes.com. Retrieved 21 May 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/upshot/coronavirus-school-closings.html.
Dingwall, R. (2020). Coronavirus UK – Why Closing Schools is (Generally) a Bad Idea. Socialsciencespace.com. Retrieved 21 May 2020, from https://www.socialsciencespace.com/2020/03/coronavirus-uk-why-closing-schools-is-generally-a-bad-idea/.
Hess, F. (2020). COVID-19 And The Catch-22 Of School Closure. Forbes. Retrieved 21 May 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/frederickhess/2020/03/09/covid-19-and-the-catch-22-of-school-closure/#763345d717ab.
Strauss, V. (2020). Is it really a good idea to close schools to fight coronavirus?. Retrieved 21 May 2020, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/03/09/is-it-really-good-idea-close-schools-fight-coronavirus/.
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COVID-19: Impact of School Closures on U.S. Education System - Essay Sample. (2023, Aug 12). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/covid-19-impact-of-school-closures-on-us-education-system-essay-sample
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