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How has COVID-19 changed education in America?

Updated: Aug 18, 2021

The American education system has been around for centuries. Kids wake up early, go to school for a few hours, then come home to do some homework. Rinse and repeat for five days a week, 180 days a year.

But that’s all about to change. COVID-19 shook the country to its core, including its education system. Students were put through a school year completely different than what they were used to.

So how has COVID-19 changed education in America? What impact has COVID-19 had on education?

Remote learning has changed education

This one is obvious. But remote learning is going to change the way students attend school.

Parents, educators, and students didn’t think it would be possible. How could students learn without being at school? Zoom calls, virtual activities, online assignments, and learning software. That’s how.

Remote learning shows the power of the student spirit. If a student wants to learn, they will. Of course, remote learning hasn’t been pretty for everyone. Some students can’t help but browse the web or play a game during class.

But remote learning could come into play for students who don’t have access to transportation or need a flexible schedule, or even those that work.

Remote learning is pushing little kids to become technologically literate. First-graders are logging into their school accounts, exploring education software, and switching between different online meetings. That’s insane! These kids are 6 and already have an idea of how to use the web.

These kids are going to know how to learn online. While they won’t be forced to stay at home forever, it’s definitely an amazing skill to have.

With remote learning being successful for many students, their families might consider looking into ways to continue that learning model.

Homeschooling has increased in popularity

Since it has been proven that students can learn from home, more parents will let them do just that. Homeschooling has been around for a while. With about 3% of American students being homeschooled in 2016.

There are many advantages to homeschooling children rather than sending them to school. In fact, about 80% of homeschool parents report that they homeschool their child because of dissatisfaction with the education system.

Homeschooling just offers so many advantages, too. Students do better on tests, are more comfortable in their learning environment, get to complete a personalized curriculum, and feel closer to their families. More families are seeing these benefits, which is why 11.1% of families report homeschooling on the U.S. census survey.

More families are likely going to switch over to a homeschooling model in the coming years.

Schools have adopted hybrid models

Since state lockdowns have become more lenient, more and more schools are switching over to hybrid models. This means that students go to school on some days and stay at home on others.

Entire schools are offering either hybrid models, entirely remote learning, or just pre-COVID learning. Many families and students are opting for hybrid models.

Hybrid learning allows students to be flexible with their learning but still get to experience the curriculum in person.

We can’t say for certain if schools will continue to offer these options, but there are clear benefits to having them. Maintenance bills are down, and students seem to be happier.

Extracurriculars will be in control of the community

Because students won’t be going to school that often, extracurriculars in the school will definitely decrease in popularity.

Community sports teams and community service clubs outside of school will have more of a use. Students won’t be going to school as often as they used to, so it’d be a hassle to go just for an hour or two because of sports practice.

School hours are more flexible, which allows students to engage more with their community. Students can volunteer with an animal hospital, work with their church, get a job, join a sports team, or read to kids in the library.

Underserved students are suffering

While COVID-19 has just been a minor inconvenience to the learning lives of many, it has been a major roadblock to others. Specifically, children of lower economic class families.

These children have seen more death, poverty, and suffering since the beginning of COVID. They’re being forced to stay home and away from school. Many students see school as an escape from the turmoil of their daily home lives.

Children of these families also don’t have the best access to laptops or an internet connection, which makes learning from home almost impossible. Many schools have provided laptops and mobile hotspots, but the quality of these products is terrible.

Even if these students had Macbook Airs and the best connections possible, their learning lives at home wouldn’t improve much. Many students are crammed into small homes with many siblings. There are stories of at least 5 kids crammed into one room doing school. These kids have to try not to bother their siblings or get distracted. There are even stories of teens doing presentations in the bathroom just to not bother their siblings.

Lower-economic class children are still children. And they’re deserving of equal education to those of their higher-class peers.

College admissions will never be the same

The SAT and ACT tests were staples of the college admissions process. Students send in the scores that define their academic performance and pray for the best results. Well, not anymore.

Many private and public schools have become either test-optional or test-blind to these tests. This is because the tests couldn’t be safely administered in person, and having them from home would allow students to cheat.

Some of the top schools in the country, like UC Berkeley and UC Los Angeles, are no longer going to be considering SAT or ACT scores in the admissions process. Even after COVID, these scores will be irrelevant. It’s likely that many other schools will follow their lead, too.

In the coming years, we will be able to see how students who sent in scores compared to those who didn’t.

The lesson learned

Education hasn’t changed in centuries. Yet, the society we live in definitely has. Technology, social norms, and communication has changed immensely in the past decade alone.

If almost everything about America has changed, why hasn’t the education system? COVID-19 was a horrible pandemic, but it has opened our eyes to what education in America can and should be. Flexible, adaptable, and accessible.

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