There is no denying that the Covid-19 global pandemic has disrupted just about every aspect of our lives, including our children’s education. By the end of March 2020, interruptions were experienced at schools in every state. Although the extent and timeline of the closures differed from one region to the next, the Australian education system as a whole was impacted greatly.
Even now, a year later, great uncertainty still remains, with lockdowns being enforced and lifted without much forewarning. Although Australia has managed to avoid much of the large-scale devastation the pandemic caused elsewhere in the world, the country’s education system remains vulnerable.
There are actually a number of ways in which the pandemic is changing education across the world.
Open schools largely dependent on vaccinations
During the last week of March this year, Brisbane schools entered and exited a snap lockdown brought on by a quarantine breach. Schools were closed yet again for everyone except vulnerable children and the children of essential workers. Until such a time that the country’s vaccination program enjoys a high and effective coverage, these lockdowns will continue to interrupt the curriculum.
At present, approximately 600,000 Australians have been vaccinated. Educators and children under the age of 16, however, are not seen as priority, and recipients and will have to wait until their age and medical history warrants their vaccinations. This could have a dire impact on the education system, as a single staff member or student who tests positive can close down an entire school.
Unlike other parts of the world that have problems with their vaccine supply chain, Australia is in the fortunate position that the locally-produced AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for local distribution by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Even though the AstraZeneca vaccine is not recommended for people aged under 50 years, it’s local manufacture should allow for a faster vaccination rate than that of many other countries.
There is no going back to a tech-less classroom
One of the first things the pandemic highlighted in terms of education is the need for online and digital resources. Although a digital transformation was inevitable, home learning accelerated what would have been a gradual transformation considerably.
Students have now become accustomed to technology-rich learning, which will make transitioning back to a traditional classroom not only difficult, but possibly detrimental to their learning as well.
Even when the pandemic has subsided completely and lockdowns are nothing but a memory, digitally-assisted learning will have a place in the classroom and at home.
While technology is often seen as the bane of a parent’s existence, it can also boost a child’s learning potential considerably.
New skill sets have been identified
Prior to the pandemic, much of the Australian curriculum focused on developing traditional life skills that will see children grow up into well-functioning adults in a pandemic-free world. Thanks to the pandemic, however, this focus has shifted somewhat towards a more holistic set of life skills suitable to an unpredictable and rapidly-evolving world.
Curricula are being adapted to now also develop skills such as emotional intelligence and empathy alongside more conventional skills, such as good communication, diligence and honesty. Another skill that needs to be taught that future employees are bound to look for is the ability to remain calm and focused during periods of immense stress, and to adapt swiftly to a changing working environment.
The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the educational system in many ways. While there have been various disruptions and stressors to deal with, there are also a number of positive things that have stemmed from the situation.