This global pandemic has brought on a new reality and everyone has been affected by the devastating spread of COVID-19. This includes the future generation; the scholars of tomorrow are falling through the cracks during the “virtual learning era.”
For some of these students, the school was a place of escape. virtual classes do not hold the same energy as they did when one sat in front of a desk with mobile phones put away.
With many unforeseeable weights stacking up amid an unprecedented time, it leaves the question of the long-term effects of this abrupt transition in education and development.
COVID-19 has exposed the world to preexisting problems that lived here before a global shutdown. One of the continuous issues include the gap in resources that lives below the poverty line. All levels of education transitioned to being virtual, but the world faced a crisis of the digital divide.
Digital activists such as Larry Irving predicted the detriment that might take place in society. He described low-income communities without access to internet connection metaphorically living in the dark ages, falling behind in advancement and globalization.
Statistically in our nation, “Sixty-percent of Detroit have homes without a proper broadband connection, forty-percent of Houston face the same problem,” explained Irving in previous interviews. The numbers fluctuate throughout the states, but the common denominator is the need for a national policy that digitally supports the people across America. This issue has been recognized in the past, but now it is affecting the future.
The L.A. County Office of Education disclosed emergency protocols as early as April of this year. Based on the recommendation from California State Governor Gavin Newsom, the academic curriculum has remained available on a virtual database only. The L.A. Office County of Education shared how this issue would affect the 80 school districts in the Los Angeles region. Currently, more than 20% of American students lack direct broadband or technological equipment.
The virtual world of education calls for more than the teacher and the student. The system is set up to entrust the student to log-in, interact, and perform at grade level, while wrestling at the feeling of being at home. Most students have found a way around attending classes, if they are left to their own devices with no supervision, they can fall behind.
There has been a local report of a student not attending class and had missing assignments dating back from two months. For the safety of a minor, their identity and personal information will remain discretionary. Their family dynamic splits between two homes with constant conflict. There is no place for the student to focus and devote their energy to the assignments that continuously pile up. This is one example of the cultural perplexities and lack of equity in the virtual school system.
A common notion is to place blame on the parents. However, from a working-class perspective during a global pandemic, the adult’s focus is on survival rather than school participation. Situations are strained far past their normal capacity. In some cases, there’s barely enough energy to keep the house running in its natural order as the world erupts with new changes. There is a lack of understanding of roles that stem from the family household during this time.
Additionally, teachers are having a hard time maintaining the flow of the class. Due to the newness of “online-learning,” class interruption happens more frequently.
Classes were canceled due to the educator not knowing how to launch the virtual lesson. In frustration, academic professionals have lashed out in passive-aggressive emails to students. There are too many variables that contribute to the failure of this “new normal” for education.
As the firstborn of every family, this generation is the first experiment in a virtual test. This event can only hurt all of humanity in the long run, as society continues to grow and develop. Some of the solutions to this concern has been to “track down” the student and have interventions. Other techniques used to rear the student’s attention back to the books include sending text messages, parent engagement, counseling, home visits, case management, offering mental health services, and extended learning time.
Virtual learning is not a short-term issue. If students are not fully engaged in their studies, that only leaves an increased market for labor-infused career paths. This lack of progress will fuel a cycle of imbalance in financial classes and stability. There is also health factors to consider during this time, according to a student-operated news site at Canyon High School in Orange county. There are medical concerns that are coupled with virtual learning.
According to “Smoke Signals: The Student News Site of Canyon High School,” there is a study of the medical concerns virtual learning has on the student. The website stated, “The blue light from most electronic devices is a melatonin inhibitor, which affects our body’s ability to maintain a healthy sleep cycle.” The site elaborates on gradual sight deterioration from the backlit screen. Consistently using the devices is known for causing “eye-strain.”
This type of learning environment may work for some students, but not all. Many students are being left behind. Attaining the perspective of the student, this issue also affects the emotional awareness of the teenager directly.
This age is the first of many stages of self-awareness, and now there is added pressure of a webcam bringing them unwanted attention.
This triggers the desire to disengage in “class.” Circling back to the family dynamic, the student may feel self-conscious about where they live and how their household setting may be up for ridicule. This issue can lead to cyberbullying, which can be a factor into teen suicide.
Many different factors are playing into the attempt to keep the educational system afloat, but there is a need for deep deliberation on a national level. For the sake of the nation’s growth, those in power and influence have the social responsibility to invest in the doctors, public service officials, law enforcement, and firefighters of the future.