Editorials

Despite school closures, coronavirus pandemic provides additional opportunities to learn


June 17, 2020

Since the escalation of the COVID-19 outbreak, people around the world have had to adapt to drastic lifestyle changes as their countries place regulations on travel and social gatherings. 

In the United States, state governments—excluding those of Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming— have enacted statewide stay-at-home orders and introduced restrictions to help curtail the spread of the coronavirus. Most notable for students is the fact that schools in all states besides Montana, Nebraska and Wyoming have been closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. In addition to being unable to physically attend their classes, students are also missing out on sports, prom, school trips and traditional graduation ceremonies.

Despite the fact that students are not in school, their education continues. Classes have reverted to a distance-learning structure through the use of online resources such as Google Classroom and Zoom . However, with the coronavirus pandemic imposing countless changes to people’s daily routines, the act of learning has extended far beyond these virtual classrooms. 

First, people have had to learn how to cope with fear. A life-threatening virus that presents a danger to everyone has caused the world to become a place of uncertainty and anxiety. This pandemic is entirely unprecedented, which is terrifying. In the past few months, people have been forced to address this fear and completely reshape their lives around it in ways that range from wearing masks in public to only leaving their homes for essential reasons. This is no easy task, yet people, though scared, have proved themselves to be quick learners.

Furthermore, though the intense fear brought on by COVID-19 has the potential to drive people apart, friends and family have discovered new ways to connect despite being unable to safely spend time in each other’s physical company. Group video calls and online games are just two of the many ways people have communicated while social-distancing. Additionally, social media apps such as Twitter and TikTok enable users to produce and share content relating to the pandemic. By doing so, they can connect to a large number of people and establish a sense of community among them.

In the past few months, people have been forced to address this fear and completely reshape their lives around it in ways that range from wearing masks in public to only leaving their homes for essential reasons.

The pandemic has also reminded individuals about the importance of practicing self-care. During this pandemic, self-care has proven to be as difficult as it is essential. This is partly due to the rise in mental health concerns associated with the pandemic; experts warn that a wave of mental health issues is expected. According to a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 45 percent of Americans say the coronavirus crisis has affected mental health, with 19 percent saying it has had a “major impact.” 

Unable to exercise at the gym, go out to eat or visit with friends, the necessity of taking care of oneself both emotionally and physically has presented a challenge. Learning new ways to care for oneself despite these limitations is imperative in coping with stress, anxiety and other mental health issues. Creative solutions, such as doing an at-home workout or spending time with loved ones at a safe distance, are becoming popular as people strive to establish new, healthy habits.

Additionally, the importance of family has emerged as a central lesson during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some people are quarantined with their family and see them regularly; some do not have the opportunity to see certain family members at all. Both situations have prompted people to reevaluate their familial relationships and reminded them how valuable those relationships are. 

Most importantly, people are learning how to respect one another. Society has rallied around vulnerable populations and frontline heroes in these difficult times. Millions of people are staying home and following regulations to protect not only themselves but at-risk groups. Immense support for local businesses and arrangements for students receiving free or reduced-price meals to pick up food are just two ways communities and those within them are protecting one another. People have even taken to chalking sidewalks with uplifting messages and putting stuffed animals in their windows to bring positivity to others. 

Though people around the world are currently struggling, these actions, combined with countless other stories about people caring for each other, have the ability to unite us even from a distance.

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