Home schooling. A concept that pre-Covid would have given the majority of parents’ fear. Well welcome to 2020, you now do not have a choice. When coronavirus lockdowns were enforced all around the world, the education of 1.6 billion pupils in 190 countries were thrown into disarray. Schools were instructed to close in order to stop the spread of Coronavirus. Although children have less chance of becoming critically ill from the virus, transmission between themselves and their families including vulnerable members was a concern. Parents quickly had to evolve into teachers, get the laptop out and download the app we now all hate to hear about…Zoom.
For the 90% of the world’s school age children who were effected by COVID school closures, they had to adapt to a new, isolated way of learning. Time in education is seen as essential for intellectual development. The era of forced home schooling however didn’t consider how achievable this would be. Home schooling assumes that parents are adequately educated and have the necessary resources such as laptops, books and even food. Studies showed that children from wealthier families were spending 30% more time on home schooling than those from poorer backgrounds. Poorer families typically have less educational resources at home and many families were even struggling to feed their children without the access to free school meals.
Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford began spearheading the free school meals campaign to allow children to also receive food in the holidays as well until Easter 2021, acknowledging the struggle of many families in the pandemic to keep food on the table. The government however bid against this campaign claiming they had already given enough money towards the cause. Consequently, thousands of businesses began donating and offering their services through social media to help provide food for the families in need. School closures served to highlight the importance of physically attending school. This is not only for educational attainment but also to ensure that children’s socio-economic status didn’t impact their ability to learn through providing meals and educational material for all children.
As Coronavirus lockdowns continue, it seems hard to imagine a new normal. Many parents and government officials are worried about school age children and the effects this pandemic will have on them. After spending months learning in isolation, some fear children’s social development and educational attainment will be stunted. Schools have now reopened but it is still nothing close to normal. Uniform rules have changed, children have to remain in bubbles and have restricted social mixing and they are not able to move classrooms throughout the day. Home schooling also continues for some as year groups are being sent home for weeks at a time if pupils contract the virus. We continue to remain optimistic for 2021 and hopefully achieve some sense of normality not only for children but for the majority of the world.