How to Write About Coronavirus in a College Essay

Students can share how they navigated life during the coronavirus pandemic in a full-length essay or an optional supplement.

Writing About COVID-19 in College Essays

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Experts say students should be honest and not limit themselves to merely their experiences with the pandemic.

The global impact of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, means colleges and prospective students alike are in for an admissions cycle like no other. Both face unprecedented challenges and questions as they grapple with their respective futures amid the ongoing fallout of the pandemic.

Colleges must examine applicants without the aid of standardized test scores for many – a factor that prompted many schools to go test-optional for now . Even grades, a significant component of a college application, may be hard to interpret with some high schools adopting pass-fail classes last spring due to the pandemic. Major college admissions factors are suddenly skewed.

"I can't help but think other (admissions) factors are going to matter more," says Ethan Sawyer, founder of the College Essay Guy, a website that offers free and paid essay-writing resources.

College essays and letters of recommendation , Sawyer says, are likely to carry more weight than ever in this admissions cycle. And many essays will likely focus on how the pandemic shaped students' lives throughout an often tumultuous 2020.

But before writing a college essay focused on the coronavirus, students should explore whether it's the best topic for them.

Writing About COVID-19 for a College Application

Much of daily life has been colored by the coronavirus. Virtual learning is the norm at many colleges and high schools, many extracurriculars have vanished and social lives have stalled for students complying with measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

"For some young people, the pandemic took away what they envisioned as their senior year," says Robert Alexander, dean of admissions, financial aid and enrollment management at the University of Rochester in New York. "Maybe that's a spot on a varsity athletic team or the lead role in the fall play. And it's OK for them to mourn what should have been and what they feel like they lost, but more important is how are they making the most of the opportunities they do have?"

That question, Alexander says, is what colleges want answered if students choose to address COVID-19 in their college essay.

But the question of whether a student should write about the coronavirus is tricky. The answer depends largely on the student.

"In general, I don't think students should write about COVID-19 in their main personal statement for their application," Robin Miller, master college admissions counselor at IvyWise, a college counseling company, wrote in an email.

"Certainly, there may be exceptions to this based on a student's individual experience, but since the personal essay is the main place in the application where the student can really allow their voice to be heard and share insight into who they are as an individual, there are likely many other topics they can choose to write about that are more distinctive and unique than COVID-19," Miller says.

Opinions among admissions experts vary on whether to write about the likely popular topic of the pandemic.

"If your essay communicates something positive, unique, and compelling about you in an interesting and eloquent way, go for it," Carolyn Pippen, principal college admissions counselor at IvyWise, wrote in an email. She adds that students shouldn't be dissuaded from writing about a topic merely because it's common, noting that "topics are bound to repeat, no matter how hard we try to avoid it."

Above all, she urges honesty.

"If your experience within the context of the pandemic has been truly unique, then write about that experience, and the standing out will take care of itself," Pippen says. "If your experience has been generally the same as most other students in your context, then trying to find a unique angle can easily cross the line into exploiting a tragedy, or at least appearing as though you have."

But focusing entirely on the pandemic can limit a student to a single story and narrow who they are in an application, Sawyer says. "There are so many wonderful possibilities for what you can say about yourself outside of your experience within the pandemic."

He notes that passions, strengths, career interests and personal identity are among the multitude of essay topic options available to applicants and encourages them to probe their values to help determine the topic that matters most to them – and write about it.

That doesn't mean the pandemic experience has to be ignored if applicants feel the need to write about it.

Writing About Coronavirus in Main and Supplemental Essays

Students can choose to write a full-length college essay on the coronavirus or summarize their experience in a shorter form.

To help students explain how the pandemic affected them, The Common App has added an optional section to address this topic. Applicants have 250 words to describe their pandemic experience and the personal and academic impact of COVID-19.

"That's not a trick question, and there's no right or wrong answer," Alexander says. Colleges want to know, he adds, how students navigated the pandemic, how they prioritized their time, what responsibilities they took on and what they learned along the way.

If students can distill all of the above information into 250 words, there's likely no need to write about it in a full-length college essay, experts say. And applicants whose lives were not heavily altered by the pandemic may even choose to skip the optional COVID-19 question.

"This space is best used to discuss hardship and/or significant challenges that the student and/or the student's family experienced as a result of COVID-19 and how they have responded to those difficulties," Miller notes. Using the section to acknowledge a lack of impact, she adds, "could be perceived as trite and lacking insight, despite the good intentions of the applicant."

To guard against this lack of awareness, Sawyer encourages students to tap someone they trust to review their writing , whether it's the 250-word Common App response or the full-length essay.

Experts tend to agree that the short-form approach to this as an essay topic works better, but there are exceptions. And if a student does have a coronavirus story that he or she feels must be told, Alexander encourages the writer to be authentic in the essay.

"My advice for an essay about COVID-19 is the same as my advice about an essay for any topic – and that is, don't write what you think we want to read or hear," Alexander says. "Write what really changed you and that story that now is yours and yours alone to tell."

Sawyer urges students to ask themselves, "What's the sentence that only I can write?" He also encourages students to remember that the pandemic is only a chapter of their lives and not the whole book.

Miller, who cautions against writing a full-length essay on the coronavirus, says that if students choose to do so they should have a conversation with their high school counselor about whether that's the right move. And if students choose to proceed with COVID-19 as a topic, she says they need to be clear, detailed and insightful about what they learned and how they adapted along the way.

"Approaching the essay in this manner will provide important balance while demonstrating personal growth and vulnerability," Miller says.

Pippen encourages students to remember that they are in an unprecedented time for college admissions.

"It is important to keep in mind with all of these (admission) factors that no colleges have ever had to consider them this way in the selection process, if at all," Pippen says. "They have had very little time to calibrate their evaluations of different application components within their offices, let alone across institutions. This means that colleges will all be handling the admissions process a little bit differently, and their approaches may even evolve over the course of the admissions cycle."

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9 Impact of COVID-19 on K-12 Students

Susan Taylor

Introduction

The novel Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19 took the world by surprise. The United States was not prepared for this pandemic in any aspects and now people are suffering greatly. What at first seemed like a far off disease turned into a global pandemic within a few months and completely changed how our society functioned. One of the areas that was greatly affected was the K-12 educational system. Students around the country are suffering from learning loss, inadequate teaching methods, inability to keep up with online technology while also dealing with many other pandemic related stresses. These developments could have major consequences for students. They are extremely concerning because education is the basis of our society.

Connection to STS Theory

The pandemic will have major consequences for students in the future. This is an example of Path-dependency. The Path-dependency theory occurs when past events affect future outcomes. The negative effects that COVID-19 has had on education could impact students for many years to come. The loss of learning that the pandemic has caused students could lead to a decrease in wages they earn in the future, a lower national GDP , and also make it harder for students to find jobs. Students who are affected by COVID-19 could have a worsened mental health, both in the present day and in the future because they are constantly surrounded by new stressors.

The New Aspect of Technology

Mask, student, corona, student, covid-19, class, virus

We live in a society where technology is prevalent and commonly used in our everyday lives. However, the education system is in many aspects lagging behind in technology use. Many schools around the country have integrated online technology into their standards or have at least some devices for students to use. But at the same time, many schools do not have the resources to do so. When COVID-19 first hit in spring 2020 schools were taken by surprise and closed. Students received little to no education for the rest of the semester and technology was partially to blame.

Many students do not have the necessary technology needed to survive in this new hybrid and online teaching environment. In a study conducted by EdWeek in May of 2020, only around 59% of schools (elementary to high) surveyed had 1 to 1 student to computer ratios ( Bushweller ). This is an alarmingly low percentage considering schools went virtual for almost all of the spring 2020 semester. Many students have to share devices with family, friends and siblings, and completing school work can be a huge challenge for them. Large numbers of students also do not have access to quality internet at home. Even if they did have a device at home it would be impossible to complete online work. Minority students are more likely to struggle with these new teaching methods than other groups. Many of them do not have a device to complete school work, have to share devices with others or do not have internet connection at their homes. Minority students are also more likely to go to underfunded public schools that can not afford to supply students with devices.

Online learning requires not only the availability of technology, but also the knowledge of how to use it. Students who usually learned with a traditional teaching method might have never had practice using online technology in their school work. They may have used the technology mainly for games or social activities. Without the prior practice and knowledge of how to use their devices in learning, students might find them practically useless ( García & Wiess ).

Education Loss

It is completely normal for students to have a slight learning loss during the summer or long breaks, but the situation with COVID-19 is much different. Students not only have loss from summer break, they also missed many months of educational time during the spring and possibly parts of the fall semesters. This loss needs to be factored in their learning as well. Teaching methods that differ from the traditional ways are expected to grow the already large learning gap even more.

Hybrid and online learning methods are much different than the usual way most students are taught. Students were also thrown into these forms of teaching by surprise in the spring of 2020, resulting in many negative effects on their learning. A study done at Fresno State explains just how bad the learning loss gap will be for students in these new situations. Students who experience average remote learning will lose about 3-4 months of learning. Low quality remote learning will account for about 7-11 months of learning loss and no instruction at all would result in 12-14 months of lost learning ( Dorn et al. ). This time during a student’s life is crucial for building fundamental knowledge that will aid them for the rest of their lives, and this loss is devastating.

The consequences for minority students will be even worse. There is already an educational gap between minority and white students. COVID-19 will likely make it grow larger. Minority students are less likely to have outside resources to support their learning compared to students of higher socioeconomic status because such resources can be very pricey. Parents of minority students are also more likely to work laboring jobs that have long hours, so it is difficult for them to receive extra help outside of the classroom. It is also less likely that these students will have a quiet place to work, without distractions ( Fox ).

Learning Loss equals Earning Loss

This time during a student’s life is crucial for building fundamental knowledge that will aid them for the rest of their lives so this loss is devastating. The loss of education now can lead to a big economic impact in the future. It is estimated that students could lose anywhere from $61,000 to $82,000 in lifetime earnings just from COVID-19 effects so far. When you factor in the current overall dropout rate the average lifetime earning loss goes to about $2.2 billion ( Dorn) . Student dropout rate is higher than ever due to the pandemic and this will lead to a decades long problem for the U.S. and its citizens. There would be a never ending cycle between loss of education and loss of earning.

America’s GDP is nowhere near as high as it could be due to educational gaps between white and minority students. Less education usually means less pay, even in a society without the Coronavirus. Now that COVID-19 is a factor that is affecting the economy, there will be even bigger blows. The loss or lack of education now will lead to an even greater drop in the country’s GDP. This is a problem because the overall wealth of our country and its citizens will decrease.

With the decrease in effectiveness of teaching methods we are creating a less educated society. If this continues then students will not be prepared for their next years of school and their careers that come afterwards. Not only are they losing the teachable aspect of education, they are also missing out on the independently learned side of it as well. K-12 years are crucial for students to learn about problem solving, respect, teamwork and so many more aspects that lead to a successful, sociable person. Many jobs look for these key qualities when hiring employees, but with the loss in learning caused by COVID-19 students with competence in them will be lacking in the future. This could cause many students to not find good jobs or have decreased pay. This development will hurt not only students, but the country as a whole and make it function less effectively.

Pandemic Related Stress

Pandemics are an extremely stressful time for everyone and it is even worse on children, especially students. Pretty much every aspect of a student’s life has been stripped away from them; school, sports, clubs, friends and much more. During this time of unknowing there are so many factors that children have to worry about. These stresses, in turn, will affect their ability to retain information and learn.

Not only do children have to worry about school work and how to teach themselves. They also have many other anxieties during this time as well. Students worry about the Coronavirus and whether they, their friends, families will get this new illness. Sickness can play a huge role in a child’s ability to learn because there is a constant fear and the virus is always being talked about. COVID-19 is also new and everything about it seems uncertain. Sickness is not the only things children have to worry about when it comes to the pandemic, but it is a major factor that can affect their mental status and ability to learn.

covid 19 student essay

Financial problems play a huge role in a student’s life as well. So many people have lost their jobs during this time due to sickness, quarantine, and economic decline. If their family is greatly struggling students may have to put their education on hold and work in order to help the family. Financial problems can also change a student’s entire way of life, which can be a huge adjustment and make school work seem less important.

Social isolation and being away from peers greatly affects a child’s mental health, which respectively, will affect their ability to learn and retain knowledge. Humans are social creatures meant to be around others, but when the pandemic hit students were separated from their peers for months on end. This increases the chance of mental illnesses in students as well as other problems with their ability to interact socially. Chronic stress changes the chemical and physical structure of the brain, impairing cognitive skills like attention, concentration, memory, and creativity ( Terada ).

Schools account for a majority of mental health services for children so a lot of damage will come from closures. Most children come to their schools for help with mental health and safety issues. Taking away this resource or making it less available could greatly impede a student’s ability to learn and work through personal problems. School is also a safe place for many students, where they can escape problems at home. Now that this resource will not be readily available for them, stress could be overwhelming for many students and their education is almost guaranteed to suffer. A lot of mental illnesses start in childhood and are identified in the school environment. Many of these issues students face will now go unnoticed, possibly for many years.

How Hybrid Learning Might be Beneficial

Hybrid and online learning might be new in a usually traditional schooling method, but these systems have been around for a while and might prove to be beneficial for students. Some believe that these new methods of teaching will allow students to gain new knowledge and skills, such as computer self-efficacy, self-regulation and even boost engagement ( Sun & Rueda ). Some teachers are trying harder to boost class engagement and students can do work at their own pace. Studies have also found that online or hybrid learning methods can have very similar outcomes compared to face-to-face learning when students are engaged and actively being taught ( Kauffman ). Some believe that hybrid learning methods allow students to work around other schedules and be able to do a little work here and there, giving them more time to do what they love. This side of the argument believes that when students have free-reign on how they learn, they learn better.

These teaching methods could be beneficial for students who were prepared for this type of learning, but not all students have the drive and motivation needed to complete all of their work on their own and in their own time. Hybrid learning in this situation could be more beneficial than online or no schooling methods, but many unique challenges have arisen during the pandemic ( Raes ). Studies conducted before the pandemic can not be accurately compared to a student’s educational life now due to so many added factors of stress and unpreparedness. The COVID-19 pandemic brings forth new challenges not discussed in older studies and it is difficult to compare the two at this time.

Every student is different. So are their lives at home. Therefore, the outcome that the COVID-19 pandemic will have on them and their education cannot be set in stone quite yet. However, we can expect major delays in their education just because they were thrown into a situation that no one was prepared for. Schools and students were in many ways unprepared for challenges caused by COVID-19 and new teaching methods. Some issues students face now can affect them and the country for the rest of their lives because education is extremely important in our modern society. All that we can do for now is to support students and their needs for technology, education and assistance, not only in the school place, but in their personal lives as well. If we don’t fix what has been lost, many generations to come could be affected.

Bushweller, Kevin. “How COVID-19 Is Shaping Tech Use. What That Means When Schools Reopen.” Education Week , 2 Jun. 2020,  www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/06/03/how-covid-19-is-shaping-tech-use-what.html .

Dorn, Emma, et al. COVID-19 and Student Learning in the United States: The Hurt Could Last a Lifetime. Global Editorial Services. McKinsey & Company, 2020,  https://fresnostate.edu/kremen/about/centers-projects/weltycenter/documents/COVID-19-and-student-learning-in-the-United-States-FINAL.pdf .

Fox, Michelle. “Coronavirus has suspended school plans. It will also worsen racial and economic inequalities, experts warn.” CNBC, 12 Aug. 2020,  https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/12/impact-of-covid-19-on-schools-will-worsen-racial-inequity-experts-say.html .

García, Emma, and Elaine Weiss. “COVID-19 and student performance, equity, and U.S. education policy.” Economic Policy Institute, 10 Sep. 2020, https://www.epi.org/publication/the-consequences-of-the-covid-19-pandemic-for-education-performance-and-equity-in-the-united-states-what-can-we-learn-from-pre-pandemic-research-to-inform-relief-recovery-and-rebuilding/ .

Kauffman, Heather. “A Review of Predictive Factors of Student Success in and Satisfaction with Online Learning.”  Research in Learning Technology , vol. 23, 2015, pp. 1-13, https://doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v23.26507 .

Raes, Annelies, et al. “Learning and Instruction in the Hybrid Virtual Classroom: An Investigation of Students’ Engagement and the Effect of Quizzes.”  Computers and Education , vol. 143, 2020, pp. 1-16, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2019.103682 .

Sun, Jerry C., and Robert Rueda. “Situational Interest, Computer self‐efficacy and self‐regulation: Their Impact on Student Engagement in Distance Education.”  British Journal of Educational Technology , vol. 43, no. 2, 2012, pp. 191-204, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8535.2010.01157.x .

Terada, Youki. “Covid-19’s Impact on Students’ Academic and Mental Well-Being.” Edutopia , 24 Jun. 2020, www.edutopia.org/article/covid-19s-impact-students-academic-and-mental-well-being .

“woman, covering, nose, white, towel, blow, blowing, hand chief, grey, blond” by Pxfuel is in the Public Domain, CC0

“Mask, student, corona, student, covid-19, class, virus” by Yogen Dras is in the Public Domain, CC0

COVID-19: Success Within Devastation Copyright © 2020 by Susan Taylor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Writing about COVID-19 in a college admission essay

by: Venkates Swaminathan | Updated: September 14, 2020

Print article

Writing about COVID-19 in your college admission essay

For students applying to college using the CommonApp, there are several different places where students and counselors can address the pandemic’s impact. The different sections have differing goals. You must understand how to use each section for its appropriate use.

The CommonApp COVID-19 question

First, the CommonApp this year has an additional question specifically about COVID-19 :

Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. Colleges care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces. Please use this space to describe how these events have impacted you.

This question seeks to understand the adversity that students may have had to face due to the pandemic, the move to online education, or the shelter-in-place rules. You don’t have to answer this question if the impact on you wasn’t particularly severe. Some examples of things students should discuss include:

  • The student or a family member had COVID-19 or suffered other illnesses due to confinement during the pandemic.
  • The candidate had to deal with personal or family issues, such as abusive living situations or other safety concerns
  • The student suffered from a lack of internet access and other online learning challenges.
  • Students who dealt with problems registering for or taking standardized tests and AP exams.

Jeff Schiffman of the Tulane University admissions office has a blog about this section. He recommends students ask themselves several questions as they go about answering this section:

  • Are my experiences different from others’?
  • Are there noticeable changes on my transcript?
  • Am I aware of my privilege?
  • Am I specific? Am I explaining rather than complaining?
  • Is this information being included elsewhere on my application?

If you do answer this section, be brief and to-the-point.

Counselor recommendations and school profiles

Second, counselors will, in their counselor forms and school profiles on the CommonApp, address how the school handled the pandemic and how it might have affected students, specifically as it relates to:

  • Grading scales and policies
  • Graduation requirements
  • Instructional methods
  • Schedules and course offerings
  • Testing requirements
  • Your academic calendar
  • Other extenuating circumstances

Students don’t have to mention these matters in their application unless something unusual happened.

Writing about COVID-19 in your main essay

Write about your experiences during the pandemic in your main college essay if your experience is personal, relevant, and the most important thing to discuss in your college admission essay. That you had to stay home and study online isn’t sufficient, as millions of other students faced the same situation. But sometimes, it can be appropriate and helpful to write about something related to the pandemic in your essay. For example:

  • One student developed a website for a local comic book store. The store might not have survived without the ability for people to order comic books online. The student had a long-standing relationship with the store, and it was an institution that created a community for students who otherwise felt left out.
  • One student started a YouTube channel to help other students with academic subjects he was very familiar with and began tutoring others.
  • Some students used their extra time that was the result of the stay-at-home orders to take online courses pursuing topics they are genuinely interested in or developing new interests, like a foreign language or music.

Experiences like this can be good topics for the CommonApp essay as long as they reflect something genuinely important about the student. For many students whose lives have been shaped by this pandemic, it can be a critical part of their college application.

Want more? Read 6 ways to improve a college essay , What the &%$! should I write about in my college essay , and Just how important is a college admissions essay? .

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Covid 19 Essay in English

Essay on Covid -19: In a very short amount of time, coronavirus has spread globally. It has had an enormous impact on people's lives, economy, and societies all around the world, affecting every country. Governments have had to take severe measures to try and contain the pandemic. The virus has altered our way of life in many ways, including its effects on our health and our economy. Here are a few sample essays on ‘CoronaVirus’.

100 Words Essay on Covid 19

200 words essay on covid 19, 500 words essay on covid 19.

Covid 19 Essay in English

COVID-19 or Corona Virus is a novel coronavirus that was first identified in 2019. It is similar to other coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, but it is more contagious and has caused more severe respiratory illness in people who have been infected. The novel coronavirus became a global pandemic in a very short period of time. It has affected lives, economies and societies across the world, leaving no country untouched. The virus has caused governments to take drastic measures to try and contain it. From health implications to economic and social ramifications, COVID-19 impacted every part of our lives. It has been more than 2 years since the pandemic hit and the world is still recovering from its effects.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the world has been impacted in a number of ways. For one, the global economy has taken a hit as businesses have been forced to close their doors. This has led to widespread job losses and an increase in poverty levels around the world. Additionally, countries have had to impose strict travel restrictions in an attempt to contain the virus, which has resulted in a decrease in tourism and international trade. Furthermore, the pandemic has put immense pressure on healthcare systems globally, as hospitals have been overwhelmed with patients suffering from the virus. Lastly, the outbreak has led to a general feeling of anxiety and uncertainty, as people are fearful of contracting the disease.

My Experience of COVID-19

I still remember how abruptly colleges and schools shut down in March 2020. I was a college student at that time and I was under the impression that everything would go back to normal in a few weeks. I could not have been more wrong. The situation only got worse every week and the government had to impose a lockdown. There were so many restrictions in place. For example, we had to wear face masks whenever we left the house, and we could only go out for essential errands. Restaurants and shops were only allowed to operate at take-out capacity, and many businesses were shut down.

In the current scenario, coronavirus is dominating all aspects of our lives. The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc upon people’s lives, altering the way we live and work in a very short amount of time. It has revolutionised how we think about health care, education, and even social interaction. This virus has had long-term implications on our society, including its impact on mental health, economic stability, and global politics. But we as individuals can help to mitigate these effects by taking personal responsibility to protect themselves and those around them from infection.

Effects of CoronaVirus on Education

The outbreak of coronavirus has had a significant impact on education systems around the world. In China, where the virus originated, all schools and universities were closed for several weeks in an effort to contain the spread of the disease. Many other countries have followed suit, either closing schools altogether or suspending classes for a period of time.

This has resulted in a major disruption to the education of millions of students. Some have been able to continue their studies online, but many have not had access to the internet or have not been able to afford the costs associated with it. This has led to a widening of the digital divide between those who can afford to continue their education online and those who cannot.

The closure of schools has also had a negative impact on the mental health of many students. With no face-to-face contact with friends and teachers, some students have felt isolated and anxious. This has been compounded by the worry and uncertainty surrounding the virus itself.

The situation with coronavirus has improved and schools have been reopened but students are still catching up with the gap of 2 years that the pandemic created. In the meantime, governments and educational institutions are working together to find ways to support students and ensure that they are able to continue their education despite these difficult circumstances.

Effects of CoronaVirus on Economy

The outbreak of the coronavirus has had a significant impact on the global economy. The virus, which originated in China, has spread to over two hundred countries, resulting in widespread panic and a decrease in global trade. As a result of the outbreak, many businesses have been forced to close their doors, leading to a rise in unemployment. In addition, the stock market has taken a severe hit.

Effects of CoronaVirus on Health

The effects that coronavirus has on one's health are still being studied and researched as the virus continues to spread throughout the world. However, some of the potential effects on health that have been observed thus far include respiratory problems, fever, and coughing. In severe cases, pneumonia, kidney failure, and death can occur. It is important for people who think they may have been exposed to the virus to seek medical attention immediately so that they can be treated properly and avoid any serious complications. There is no specific cure or treatment for coronavirus at this time, but there are ways to help ease symptoms and prevent the virus from spreading.

Explore Career Options (By Industry)

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Bio Medical Engineer

The field of biomedical engineering opens up a universe of expert chances. An Individual in the biomedical engineering career path work in the field of engineering as well as medicine, in order to find out solutions to common problems of the two fields. The biomedical engineering job opportunities are to collaborate with doctors and researchers to develop medical systems, equipment, or devices that can solve clinical problems. Here we will be discussing jobs after biomedical engineering, how to get a job in biomedical engineering, biomedical engineering scope, and salary. 

Data Administrator

Database professionals use software to store and organise data such as financial information, and customer shipping records. Individuals who opt for a career as data administrators ensure that data is available for users and secured from unauthorised sales. DB administrators may work in various types of industries. It may involve computer systems design, service firms, insurance companies, banks and hospitals.

Ethical Hacker

A career as ethical hacker involves various challenges and provides lucrative opportunities in the digital era where every giant business and startup owns its cyberspace on the world wide web. Individuals in the ethical hacker career path try to find the vulnerabilities in the cyber system to get its authority. If he or she succeeds in it then he or she gets its illegal authority. Individuals in the ethical hacker career path then steal information or delete the file that could affect the business, functioning, or services of the organization.

Data Analyst

The invention of the database has given fresh breath to the people involved in the data analytics career path. Analysis refers to splitting up a whole into its individual components for individual analysis. Data analysis is a method through which raw data are processed and transformed into information that would be beneficial for user strategic thinking.

Data are collected and examined to respond to questions, evaluate hypotheses or contradict theories. It is a tool for analyzing, transforming, modeling, and arranging data with useful knowledge, to assist in decision-making and methods, encompassing various strategies, and is used in different fields of business, research, and social science.

Geothermal Engineer

Individuals who opt for a career as geothermal engineers are the professionals involved in the processing of geothermal energy. The responsibilities of geothermal engineers may vary depending on the workplace location. Those who work in fields design facilities to process and distribute geothermal energy. They oversee the functioning of machinery used in the field.

Remote Sensing Technician

Individuals who opt for a career as a remote sensing technician possess unique personalities. Remote sensing analysts seem to be rational human beings, they are strong, independent, persistent, sincere, realistic and resourceful. Some of them are analytical as well, which means they are intelligent, introspective and inquisitive. 

Remote sensing scientists use remote sensing technology to support scientists in fields such as community planning, flight planning or the management of natural resources. Analysing data collected from aircraft, satellites or ground-based platforms using statistical analysis software, image analysis software or Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a significant part of their work. Do you want to learn how to become remote sensing technician? There's no need to be concerned; we've devised a simple remote sensing technician career path for you. Scroll through the pages and read.

Geotechnical engineer

The role of geotechnical engineer starts with reviewing the projects needed to define the required material properties. The work responsibilities are followed by a site investigation of rock, soil, fault distribution and bedrock properties on and below an area of interest. The investigation is aimed to improve the ground engineering design and determine their engineering properties that include how they will interact with, on or in a proposed construction. 

The role of geotechnical engineer in mining includes designing and determining the type of foundations, earthworks, and or pavement subgrades required for the intended man-made structures to be made. Geotechnical engineering jobs are involved in earthen and concrete dam construction projects, working under a range of normal and extreme loading conditions. 

Cartographer

How fascinating it is to represent the whole world on just a piece of paper or a sphere. With the help of maps, we are able to represent the real world on a much smaller scale. Individuals who opt for a career as a cartographer are those who make maps. But, cartography is not just limited to maps, it is about a mixture of art , science , and technology. As a cartographer, not only you will create maps but use various geodetic surveys and remote sensing systems to measure, analyse, and create different maps for political, cultural or educational purposes.

Budget Analyst

Budget analysis, in a nutshell, entails thoroughly analyzing the details of a financial budget. The budget analysis aims to better understand and manage revenue. Budget analysts assist in the achievement of financial targets, the preservation of profitability, and the pursuit of long-term growth for a business. Budget analysts generally have a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, economics, or a closely related field. Knowledge of Financial Management is of prime importance in this career.

Product Manager

A Product Manager is a professional responsible for product planning and marketing. He or she manages the product throughout the Product Life Cycle, gathering and prioritising the product. A product manager job description includes defining the product vision and working closely with team members of other departments to deliver winning products.  

Underwriter

An underwriter is a person who assesses and evaluates the risk of insurance in his or her field like mortgage, loan, health policy, investment, and so on and so forth. The underwriter career path does involve risks as analysing the risks means finding out if there is a way for the insurance underwriter jobs to recover the money from its clients. If the risk turns out to be too much for the company then in the future it is an underwriter who will be held accountable for it. Therefore, one must carry out his or her job with a lot of attention and diligence.

Finance Executive

Operations manager.

Individuals in the operations manager jobs are responsible for ensuring the efficiency of each department to acquire its optimal goal. They plan the use of resources and distribution of materials. The operations manager's job description includes managing budgets, negotiating contracts, and performing administrative tasks.

Bank Probationary Officer (PO)

Investment director.

An investment director is a person who helps corporations and individuals manage their finances. They can help them develop a strategy to achieve their goals, including paying off debts and investing in the future. In addition, he or she can help individuals make informed decisions.

Welding Engineer

Welding Engineer Job Description: A Welding Engineer work involves managing welding projects and supervising welding teams. He or she is responsible for reviewing welding procedures, processes and documentation. A career as Welding Engineer involves conducting failure analyses and causes on welding issues. 

Transportation Planner

A career as Transportation Planner requires technical application of science and technology in engineering, particularly the concepts, equipment and technologies involved in the production of products and services. In fields like land use, infrastructure review, ecological standards and street design, he or she considers issues of health, environment and performance. A Transportation Planner assigns resources for implementing and designing programmes. He or she is responsible for assessing needs, preparing plans and forecasts and compliance with regulations.

An expert in plumbing is aware of building regulations and safety standards and works to make sure these standards are upheld. Testing pipes for leakage using air pressure and other gauges, and also the ability to construct new pipe systems by cutting, fitting, measuring and threading pipes are some of the other more involved aspects of plumbing. Individuals in the plumber career path are self-employed or work for a small business employing less than ten people, though some might find working for larger entities or the government more desirable.

Construction Manager

Individuals who opt for a career as construction managers have a senior-level management role offered in construction firms. Responsibilities in the construction management career path are assigning tasks to workers, inspecting their work, and coordinating with other professionals including architects, subcontractors, and building services engineers.

Urban Planner

Urban Planning careers revolve around the idea of developing a plan to use the land optimally, without affecting the environment. Urban planning jobs are offered to those candidates who are skilled in making the right use of land to distribute the growing population, to create various communities. 

Urban planning careers come with the opportunity to make changes to the existing cities and towns. They identify various community needs and make short and long-term plans accordingly.

Highway Engineer

Highway Engineer Job Description:  A Highway Engineer is a civil engineer who specialises in planning and building thousands of miles of roads that support connectivity and allow transportation across the country. He or she ensures that traffic management schemes are effectively planned concerning economic sustainability and successful implementation.

Environmental Engineer

Individuals who opt for a career as an environmental engineer are construction professionals who utilise the skills and knowledge of biology, soil science, chemistry and the concept of engineering to design and develop projects that serve as solutions to various environmental problems. 

Naval Architect

A Naval Architect is a professional who designs, produces and repairs safe and sea-worthy surfaces or underwater structures. A Naval Architect stays involved in creating and designing ships, ferries, submarines and yachts with implementation of various principles such as gravity, ideal hull form, buoyancy and stability. 

Orthotist and Prosthetist

Orthotists and Prosthetists are professionals who provide aid to patients with disabilities. They fix them to artificial limbs (prosthetics) and help them to regain stability. There are times when people lose their limbs in an accident. In some other occasions, they are born without a limb or orthopaedic impairment. Orthotists and prosthetists play a crucial role in their lives with fixing them to assistive devices and provide mobility.

Veterinary Doctor

Pathologist.

A career in pathology in India is filled with several responsibilities as it is a medical branch and affects human lives. The demand for pathologists has been increasing over the past few years as people are getting more aware of different diseases. Not only that, but an increase in population and lifestyle changes have also contributed to the increase in a pathologist’s demand. The pathology careers provide an extremely huge number of opportunities and if you want to be a part of the medical field you can consider being a pathologist. If you want to know more about a career in pathology in India then continue reading this article.

Speech Therapist

Gynaecologist.

Gynaecology can be defined as the study of the female body. The job outlook for gynaecology is excellent since there is evergreen demand for one because of their responsibility of dealing with not only women’s health but also fertility and pregnancy issues. Although most women prefer to have a women obstetrician gynaecologist as their doctor, men also explore a career as a gynaecologist and there are ample amounts of male doctors in the field who are gynaecologists and aid women during delivery and childbirth. 

An oncologist is a specialised doctor responsible for providing medical care to patients diagnosed with cancer. He or she uses several therapies to control the cancer and its effect on the human body such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy and biopsy. An oncologist designs a treatment plan based on a pathology report after diagnosing the type of cancer and where it is spreading inside the body.

Audiologist

The audiologist career involves audiology professionals who are responsible to treat hearing loss and proactively preventing the relevant damage. Individuals who opt for a career as an audiologist use various testing strategies with the aim to determine if someone has a normal sensitivity to sounds or not. After the identification of hearing loss, a hearing doctor is required to determine which sections of the hearing are affected, to what extent they are affected, and where the wound causing the hearing loss is found. As soon as the hearing loss is identified, the patients are provided with recommendations for interventions and rehabilitation such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, and appropriate medical referrals. While audiology is a branch of science that studies and researches hearing, balance, and related disorders.

Hospital Administrator

The hospital Administrator is in charge of organising and supervising the daily operations of medical services and facilities. This organising includes managing of organisation’s staff and its members in service, budgets, service reports, departmental reporting and taking reminders of patient care and services.

For an individual who opts for a career as an actor, the primary responsibility is to completely speak to the character he or she is playing and to persuade the crowd that the character is genuine by connecting with them and bringing them into the story. This applies to significant roles and littler parts, as all roles join to make an effective creation. Here in this article, we will discuss how to become an actor in India, actor exams, actor salary in India, and actor jobs. 

Individuals who opt for a career as acrobats create and direct original routines for themselves, in addition to developing interpretations of existing routines. The work of circus acrobats can be seen in a variety of performance settings, including circus, reality shows, sports events like the Olympics, movies and commercials. Individuals who opt for a career as acrobats must be prepared to face rejections and intermittent periods of work. The creativity of acrobats may extend to other aspects of the performance. For example, acrobats in the circus may work with gym trainers, celebrities or collaborate with other professionals to enhance such performance elements as costume and or maybe at the teaching end of the career.

Video Game Designer

Career as a video game designer is filled with excitement as well as responsibilities. A video game designer is someone who is involved in the process of creating a game from day one. He or she is responsible for fulfilling duties like designing the character of the game, the several levels involved, plot, art and similar other elements. Individuals who opt for a career as a video game designer may also write the codes for the game using different programming languages.

Depending on the video game designer job description and experience they may also have to lead a team and do the early testing of the game in order to suggest changes and find loopholes.

Radio Jockey

Radio Jockey is an exciting, promising career and a great challenge for music lovers. If you are really interested in a career as radio jockey, then it is very important for an RJ to have an automatic, fun, and friendly personality. If you want to get a job done in this field, a strong command of the language and a good voice are always good things. Apart from this, in order to be a good radio jockey, you will also listen to good radio jockeys so that you can understand their style and later make your own by practicing.

A career as radio jockey has a lot to offer to deserving candidates. If you want to know more about a career as radio jockey, and how to become a radio jockey then continue reading the article.

Choreographer

The word “choreography" actually comes from Greek words that mean “dance writing." Individuals who opt for a career as a choreographer create and direct original dances, in addition to developing interpretations of existing dances. A Choreographer dances and utilises his or her creativity in other aspects of dance performance. For example, he or she may work with the music director to select music or collaborate with other famous choreographers to enhance such performance elements as lighting, costume and set design.

Videographer

Multimedia specialist.

A multimedia specialist is a media professional who creates, audio, videos, graphic image files, computer animations for multimedia applications. He or she is responsible for planning, producing, and maintaining websites and applications. 

Social Media Manager

A career as social media manager involves implementing the company’s or brand’s marketing plan across all social media channels. Social media managers help in building or improving a brand’s or a company’s website traffic, build brand awareness, create and implement marketing and brand strategy. Social media managers are key to important social communication as well.

Copy Writer

In a career as a copywriter, one has to consult with the client and understand the brief well. A career as a copywriter has a lot to offer to deserving candidates. Several new mediums of advertising are opening therefore making it a lucrative career choice. Students can pursue various copywriter courses such as Journalism , Advertising , Marketing Management . Here, we have discussed how to become a freelance copywriter, copywriter career path, how to become a copywriter in India, and copywriting career outlook. 

Careers in journalism are filled with excitement as well as responsibilities. One cannot afford to miss out on the details. As it is the small details that provide insights into a story. Depending on those insights a journalist goes about writing a news article. A journalism career can be stressful at times but if you are someone who is passionate about it then it is the right choice for you. If you want to know more about the media field and journalist career then continue reading this article.

For publishing books, newspapers, magazines and digital material, editorial and commercial strategies are set by publishers. Individuals in publishing career paths make choices about the markets their businesses will reach and the type of content that their audience will be served. Individuals in book publisher careers collaborate with editorial staff, designers, authors, and freelance contributors who develop and manage the creation of content.

In a career as a vlogger, one generally works for himself or herself. However, once an individual has gained viewership there are several brands and companies that approach them for paid collaboration. It is one of those fields where an individual can earn well while following his or her passion. 

Ever since internet costs got reduced the viewership for these types of content has increased on a large scale. Therefore, a career as a vlogger has a lot to offer. If you want to know more about the Vlogger eligibility, roles and responsibilities then continue reading the article. 

Individuals in the editor career path is an unsung hero of the news industry who polishes the language of the news stories provided by stringers, reporters, copywriters and content writers and also news agencies. Individuals who opt for a career as an editor make it more persuasive, concise and clear for readers. In this article, we will discuss the details of the editor's career path such as how to become an editor in India, editor salary in India and editor skills and qualities.

Linguistic meaning is related to language or Linguistics which is the study of languages. A career as a linguistic meaning, a profession that is based on the scientific study of language, and it's a very broad field with many specialities. Famous linguists work in academia, researching and teaching different areas of language, such as phonetics (sounds), syntax (word order) and semantics (meaning). 

Other researchers focus on specialities like computational linguistics, which seeks to better match human and computer language capacities, or applied linguistics, which is concerned with improving language education. Still, others work as language experts for the government, advertising companies, dictionary publishers and various other private enterprises. Some might work from home as freelance linguists. Philologist, phonologist, and dialectician are some of Linguist synonym. Linguists can study French , German , Italian . 

Public Relation Executive

Travel journalist.

The career of a travel journalist is full of passion, excitement and responsibility. Journalism as a career could be challenging at times, but if you're someone who has been genuinely enthusiastic about all this, then it is the best decision for you. Travel journalism jobs are all about insightful, artfully written, informative narratives designed to cover the travel industry. Travel Journalist is someone who explores, gathers and presents information as a news article.

Quality Controller

A quality controller plays a crucial role in an organisation. He or she is responsible for performing quality checks on manufactured products. He or she identifies the defects in a product and rejects the product. 

A quality controller records detailed information about products with defects and sends it to the supervisor or plant manager to take necessary actions to improve the production process.

Production Manager

Merchandiser.

A QA Lead is in charge of the QA Team. The role of QA Lead comes with the responsibility of assessing services and products in order to determine that he or she meets the quality standards. He or she develops, implements and manages test plans. 

Metallurgical Engineer

A metallurgical engineer is a professional who studies and produces materials that bring power to our world. He or she extracts metals from ores and rocks and transforms them into alloys, high-purity metals and other materials used in developing infrastructure, transportation and healthcare equipment. 

Azure Administrator

An Azure Administrator is a professional responsible for implementing, monitoring, and maintaining Azure Solutions. He or she manages cloud infrastructure service instances and various cloud servers as well as sets up public and private cloud systems. 

AWS Solution Architect

An AWS Solution Architect is someone who specializes in developing and implementing cloud computing systems. He or she has a good understanding of the various aspects of cloud computing and can confidently deploy and manage their systems. He or she troubleshoots the issues and evaluates the risk from the third party. 

Computer Programmer

Careers in computer programming primarily refer to the systematic act of writing code and moreover include wider computer science areas. The word 'programmer' or 'coder' has entered into practice with the growing number of newly self-taught tech enthusiasts. Computer programming careers involve the use of designs created by software developers and engineers and transforming them into commands that can be implemented by computers. These commands result in regular usage of social media sites, word-processing applications and browsers.

ITSM Manager

Information security manager.

Individuals in the information security manager career path involves in overseeing and controlling all aspects of computer security. The IT security manager job description includes planning and carrying out security measures to protect the business data and information from corruption, theft, unauthorised access, and deliberate attack 

Business Intelligence Developer

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Covid-19’s Impact on Students’ Academic and Mental Well-Being

The pandemic has revealed—and exacerbated—inequities that hold many students back. Here’s how teachers can help.

The pandemic has shone a spotlight on inequality in America: School closures and social isolation have affected all students, but particularly those living in poverty. Adding to the damage to their learning, a mental health crisis is emerging as many students have lost access to services that were offered by schools.

No matter what form school takes when the new year begins—whether students and teachers are back in the school building together or still at home—teachers will face a pressing issue: How can they help students recover and stay on track throughout the year even as their lives are likely to continue to be disrupted by the pandemic?

New research provides insights about the scope of the problem—as well as potential solutions.

The Achievement Gap Is Likely to Widen

A new study suggests that the coronavirus will undo months of academic gains, leaving many students behind. The study authors project that students will start the new school year with an average of 66 percent of the learning gains in reading and 44 percent of the learning gains in math, relative to the gains for a typical school year. But the situation is worse on the reading front, as the researchers also predict that the top third of students will make gains, possibly because they’re likely to continue reading with their families while schools are closed, thus widening the achievement gap.

To make matters worse, “few school systems provide plans to support students who need accommodations or other special populations,” the researchers point out in the study, potentially impacting students with special needs and English language learners.

Of course, the idea that over the summer students forget some of what they learned in school isn’t new. But there’s a big difference between summer learning loss and pandemic-related learning loss: During the summer, formal schooling stops, and learning loss happens at roughly the same rate for all students, the researchers point out. But instruction has been uneven during the pandemic, as some students have been able to participate fully in online learning while others have faced obstacles—such as lack of internet access—that have hindered their progress.

In the study, researchers analyzed a national sample of 5 million students in grades 3–8 who took the MAP Growth test, a tool schools use to assess students’ reading and math growth throughout the school year. The researchers compared typical growth in a standard-length school year to projections based on students being out of school from mid-March on. To make those projections, they looked at research on the summer slide, weather- and disaster-related closures (such as New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina), and absenteeism.

The researchers predict that, on average, students will experience substantial drops in reading and math, losing roughly three months’ worth of gains in reading and five months’ worth of gains in math. For Megan Kuhfeld, the lead author of the study, the biggest takeaway isn’t that learning loss will happen—that’s a given by this point—but that students will come back to school having declined at vastly different rates.

“We might be facing unprecedented levels of variability come fall,” Kuhfeld told me. “Especially in school districts that serve families with lots of different needs and resources. Instead of having students reading at a grade level above or below in their classroom, teachers might have kids who slipped back a lot versus kids who have moved forward.” 

Disproportionate Impact on Students Living in Poverty and Students of Color

Horace Mann once referred to schools as the “great equalizers,” yet the pandemic threatens to expose the underlying inequities of remote learning. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center analysis , 17 percent of teenagers have difficulty completing homework assignments because they do not have reliable access to a computer or internet connection. For Black students, the number spikes to 25 percent.

“There are many reasons to believe the Covid-19 impacts might be larger for children in poverty and children of color,” Kuhfeld wrote in the study. Their families suffer higher rates of infection, and the economic burden disproportionately falls on Black and Hispanic parents, who are less likely to be able to work from home during the pandemic.

Although children are less likely to become infected with Covid-19, the adult mortality rates, coupled with the devastating economic consequences of the pandemic, will likely have an indelible impact on their well-being.

Impacts on Students’ Mental Health

That impact on well-being may be magnified by another effect of school closures: Schools are “the de facto mental health system for many children and adolescents,” providing mental health services to 57 percent of adolescents who need care, according to the authors of a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics . School closures may be especially disruptive for children from lower-income families, who are disproportionately likely to receive mental health services exclusively from schools.

“The Covid-19 pandemic may worsen existing mental health problems and lead to more cases among children and adolescents because of the unique combination of the public health crisis, social isolation, and economic recession,” write the authors of that study.

A major concern the researchers point to: Since most mental health disorders begin in childhood, it is essential that any mental health issues be identified early and treated. Left untreated, they can lead to serious health and emotional problems. In the short term, video conferencing may be an effective way to deliver mental health services to children.

Mental health and academic achievement are linked, research shows. Chronic stress changes the chemical and physical structure of the brain, impairing cognitive skills like attention, concentration, memory, and creativity. “You see deficits in your ability to regulate emotions in adaptive ways as a result of stress,” said Cara Wellman, a professor of neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University in a 2014 interview . In her research, Wellman discovered that chronic stress causes the connections between brain cells to shrink in mice, leading to cognitive deficiencies in the prefrontal cortex. 

While trauma-informed practices were widely used before the pandemic, they’re likely to be even more integral as students experience economic hardships and grieve the loss of family and friends. Teachers can look to schools like Fall-Hamilton Elementary in Nashville, Tennessee, as a model for trauma-informed practices . 

3 Ways Teachers Can Prepare

When schools reopen, many students may be behind, compared to a typical school year, so teachers will need to be very methodical about checking in on their students—not just academically but also emotionally. Some may feel prepared to tackle the new school year head-on, but others will still be recovering from the pandemic and may still be reeling from trauma, grief, and anxiety. 

Here are a few strategies teachers can prioritize when the new school year begins:

  • Focus on relationships first. Fear and anxiety about the pandemic—coupled with uncertainty about the future—can be disruptive to a student’s ability to come to school ready to learn. Teachers can act as a powerful buffer against the adverse effects of trauma by helping to establish a safe and supportive environment for learning. From morning meetings to regular check-ins with students, strategies that center around relationship-building will be needed in the fall.
  • Strengthen diagnostic testing. Educators should prepare for a greater range of variability in student learning than they would expect in a typical school year. Low-stakes assessments such as exit tickets and quizzes can help teachers gauge how much extra support students will need, how much time should be spent reviewing last year’s material, and what new topics can be covered.
  • Differentiate instruction—particularly for vulnerable students. For the vast majority of schools, the abrupt transition to online learning left little time to plan a strategy that could adequately meet every student’s needs—in a recent survey by the Education Trust, only 24 percent of parents said that their child’s school was providing materials and other resources to support students with disabilities, and a quarter of non-English-speaking students were unable to obtain materials in their own language. Teachers can work to ensure that the students on the margins get the support they need by taking stock of students’ knowledge and skills, and differentiating instruction by giving them choices, connecting the curriculum to their interests, and providing them multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning.

Students’ Essays on Infectious Disease Prevention, COVID-19 Published Nationwide

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As part of the BIO 173: Global Change and Infectious Disease course, Professor Fred Cohan assigns students to write an essay persuading others to prevent future and mitigate present infectious diseases. If students submit their essay to a news outlet—and it’s published—Cohan awards them with extra credit.

As a result of this assignment, more than 25 students have had their work published in newspapers across the United States. Many of these essays cite and applaud the University’s Keep Wes Safe campaign and its COVID-19 testing protocols.

Cohan, professor of biology and Huffington Foundation Professor in the College of the Environment (COE), began teaching the Global Change and Infectious Disease course in 2009, when the COE was established. “I wanted very much to contribute a course to what I saw as a real game-changer in Wesleyan’s interest in the environment. The course is about all the ways that human demands on the environment have brought us infectious diseases, over past millennia and in the present, and why our environmental disturbances will continue to bring us infections into the future.”

Over the years, Cohan learned that he can sustainably teach about 170 students every year without running out of interested students. This fall, he had 207. Although he didn’t change the overall structure of his course to accommodate COVID-19 topics, he did add material on the current pandemic to various sections of the course.

“I wouldn’t say that the population of the class increased tremendously as a result of COVID-19, but I think the enthusiasm of the students for the material has increased substantially,” he said.

To accommodate online learning, Cohan shaved off 15 minutes from his normal 80-minute lectures to allow for discussion sections, led by Cohan and teaching assistants. “While the lectures mostly dealt with biology, the discussions focused on how changes in behavior and policy can solve the infectious disease problems brought by human disturbance of the environment,” he said.

Based on student responses to an introspective exam question, Cohan learned that many students enjoyed a new hope that we could each contribute to fighting infectious disease. “They discovered that the solution to infectious disease is not entirely a waiting game for the right technologies to come along,” he said. “Many enjoyed learning about fighting infectious disease from a moral and social perspective. And especially, the students enjoyed learning about the ‘socialism of the microbe,’ how preventing and curing others’ infections will prevent others’ infections from becoming our own. The students enjoyed seeing how this idea can drive both domestic and international health policies.”

A sampling of the published student essays are below:

Alexander Giummo ’22 and Mike Dunderdale’s ’23  op-ed titled “ A National Testing Proposal: Let’s Fight Back Against COVID-19 ” was published in the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Conn.

They wrote: “With an expansive and increased testing plan for U.S. citizens, those who are COVID-positive could limit the number of contacts they have, and this would also help to enable more effective contact tracing. Testing could also allow for the return of some ‘normal’ events, such as small social gatherings, sports, and in-person class and work schedules.

“We propose a national testing strategy in line with the one that has kept Wesleyan students safe this year. The plan would require a strong push by the federal government to fund the initiative, but it is vital to successful containment of the virus.

“Twice a week, all people living in the U.S. should report to a local testing site staffed with professionals where the anterior nasal swab Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, used by Wesleyan and supported by the Broad Institute, would be implemented.”

Kalyani Mohan ’22 and Kalli Jackson ’22 penned an essay titled “ Where Public Health Meets Politics: COVID-19 in the United States ,” which was published in Wesleyan’s Arcadia Political Review .

They wrote: “While the U.S. would certainly benefit from a strengthened pandemic response team and structural changes to public health systems, that alone isn’t enough, as American society is immensely stratified, socially and culturally. The politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic shows that individualism, libertarianism and capitalism are deeply ingrained in American culture, to the extent that Americans often blind to the fact community welfare can be equivalent to personal welfare. Pandemics are multifaceted, and preventing them requires not just a cultural shift but an emotional one amongst the American people, one guided by empathy—towards other people, different communities and the planet. Politics should be a tool, not a weapon against its people.”

Sydnee Goyer ’21 and Marcel Thompson’s ’22  essay “ This Flu Season Will Be Decisive in the Fight Against COVID-19 ” also was published in Arcadia Political Review .

“With winter approaching all around the Northern Hemisphere, people are preparing for what has already been named a “twindemic,” meaning the joint threat of the coronavirus and the seasonal flu,” they wrote. “While it is known that seasonal vaccinations reduce the risk of getting the flu by up to 60% and also reduce the severity of the illness after the contamination, additional research has been conducted in order to know whether or not flu shots could reduce the risk of people getting COVID-19. In addition to the flu shot, it is essential that people remain vigilant in maintaining proper social distancing, washing your hands thoroughly, and continuing to wear masks in public spaces.”

An op-ed titled “ The Pandemic Has Shown Us How Workplace Culture Needs to Change ,” written by Adam Hickey ’22 and George Fuss ’21, was published in Park City, Utah’s The Park Record .

They wrote: “One review of academic surveys (most of which were conducted in the United States) conducted in 2019 found that between 35% and 97% of respondents in those surveys reported having attended work while they were ill, often because of workplace culture or policy which generated pressure to do so. Choosing to ignore sickness and return to the workplace while one is ill puts colleagues at risk, regardless of the perceived severity of your own illness; COVID-19 is an overbearing reminder that a disease that may cause mild, even cold-like symptoms for some can still carry fatal consequences for others.

“A mandatory paid sick leave policy for every worker, ideally across the globe, would allow essential workers to return to work when necessary while still providing enough wiggle room for economically impoverished employees to take time off without going broke if they believe they’ve contracted an illness so as not to infect the rest of their workplace and the public at large.”

Women's cross country team members and classmates Jane Hollander '23 and Sara Greene '23

Women’s cross country team members and classmates Jane Hollander ’23 and Sara Greene ’23 wrote a sports-themed essay titled “ This Season, High School Winter Sports Aren’t Worth the Risk ,” which was published in Tap into Scotch Plains/Fanwood , based in Scotch Plains, N.J. Their essay focused on the risks high school sports pose on student-athletes, their families, and the greater community.

“We don’t propose cutting off sports entirely— rather, we need to be realistic about the levels at which athletes should be participating. There are ways to make practices safer,” they wrote. “At [Wesleyan], we began the season in ‘cohorts,’ so the amount of people exposed to one another would be smaller. For non-contact sports, social distancing can be easily implemented, and for others, teams can focus on drills, strength and conditioning workouts, and skill-building exercises. Racing sports such as swim and track can compete virtually, comparing times with other schools, and team sports can focus their competition on intra-team scrimmages. These changes can allow for the continuation of a sense of normalcy and team camaraderie without the exposure to students from different geographic areas in confined, indoor spaces.”

Brook Guiffre ’23 and Maddie Clarke’s ’22  op-ed titled “ On the Pandemic ” was published in Hometown Weekly,  based in Medfield, Mass.

“The first case of COVID-19 in the United States was recorded on January 20th, 2020. For the next month and a half, the U.S. continued operating normally, while many other countries began their lockdown,” they wrote. “One month later, on February 29th, 2020, the federal government approved a national testing program, but it was too little too late. The U.S. was already in pandemic mode, and completely unprepared. Frontline workers lacked access to N-95 masks, infected patients struggled to get tested, and national leaders informed the public that COVID-19 was nothing more than the common flu. Ultimately, this unpreparedness led to thousands of avoidable deaths and long-term changes to daily life. With the risk of novel infectious diseases emerging in the future being high, it is imperative that the U.S. learn from its failure and better prepare for future pandemics now. By strengthening our public health response and re-establishing government organizations specialized in disease control, we have the ability to prevent more years spent masked and six feet apart.”

In addition, their other essay, “ On Mass Extinction ,” was also published by Hometown Weekly .

“The sixth mass extinction—which scientists have coined as the Holocene Extinction—is upon us. According to the United Nations, around one million plant and animal species are currently in danger of extinction, and many more within the next decade. While other extinctions have occurred in Earth’s history, none have occurred at such a rapid rate,” they wrote. “For the sake of both biodiversity and infectious diseases, it is in our best interest to stop pushing this Holocene Extinction further.”

An essay titled “ Learning from Our Mistakes: How to Protect Ourselves and Our Communities from Diseases ,” written by Nicole Veru ’21 and Zoe Darmon ’21, was published in My Hometown Bronxville, based in Bronxville, N.Y.

“We can protect ourselves and others from future infectious diseases by ensuring that we are vaccinated,” they wrote. “Vaccines have high levels of success if enough people get them. Due to vaccines, society is no longer ravaged by childhood diseases such as mumps, rubella, measles, and smallpox. We have been able to eradicate diseases through vaccines; smallpox, one of the world’s most consequential diseases, was eradicated from the world in the 1970s.

“In 2000, the U.S. was nearly free of measles, yet, due to hesitations by anti-vaxxers, there continues to be cases. From 2000–2015 there were over 18 measles outbreaks in the U.S. This is because unless a disease is completely eradicated, there will be a new generation susceptible.

“Although vaccines are not 100% effective at preventing infection, if we continue to get vaccinated, we protect ourselves and those around us. If enough people are vaccinated, societies can develop herd immunity. The amount of people vaccinated to obtain herd immunity depends on the disease, but if this fraction is obtained, the spread of disease is contained. Through herd immunity, we protect those who may not be able to get vaccinated, such as people who are immunocompromised and the tiny portion of people for whom the vaccine is not effective.”

Dhruvi Rana ’22 and Bryce Gillis ’22 co-authored an op-ed titled “ We Must Educate Those Who Remain Skeptical of the Dangers of COVID-19 ,” which was published in Rhode Island Central .

“As Rhode Island enters the winter season, temperatures are beginning to drop and many studies have demonstrated that colder weather and lower humidity are correlated with higher transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,” they wrote. “By simply talking or breathing, we release respiratory droplets and aerosols (tiny fluid particles which could carry the coronavirus pathogen), which can remain in the air for minutes to hours.

“In order to establish herd immunity in the US, we must educate those who remain skeptical of the dangers of COVID-19.  Whether community-driven or state-funded, educational campaigns are needed to ensure that everyone fully comprehends how severe COVID-19 is and the significance of airborne transmission. While we await a vaccine, it is necessary now more than ever that we social distance, avoid crowds, and wear masks, given that colder temperatures will likely yield increased transmission of the virus.”

Danielle Rinaldi ’21 and Verónica Matos Socorro ’21 published their op-ed titled “ Community Forum: How Mask-Wearing Demands a Cultural Reset ” in the Ewing Observer , based in Lawrence, N.J.

“In their own attempt to change personal behavior during the pandemic, Wesleyan University has mandated mask-wearing in almost every facet of campus life,” they wrote. “As members of our community, we must recognize that mask-wearing is something we are all responsible and accountable for, not only because it is a form of protection for us, but just as important for others as well. However, it seems as though both Covid fatigue and complacency are dominating the mindsets of Americans, leading to even more unwillingness to mask up. Ultimately, it is inevitable that this pandemic will not be the last in our lifespan due to global warming creating irreversible losses in biodiversity. As a result, it is imperative that we adopt the norm of mask-wearing now and undergo a culture shift of the abandonment of an individualistic mindset, and instead, create a society that prioritizes taking care of others for the benefit of all.”

Dollinger

Shayna Dollinger ’22 and Hayley Lipson ’21  wrote an essay titled “ My Pandemic Year in College Has Brought Pride and Purpose. ” Dollinger submitted the piece, rewritten in first person, to Jewish News of Northern California . Read more about Dollinger’s publication in this News @ Wesleyan article .

“I lay in the dead grass, a 6-by-6-foot square all to myself. I cheer for my best friend, who is on the stage constructed at the bottom of Foss hill, dancing with her Bollywood dance group. Masks cover their ordinarily smiling faces as their bodies move in sync. Looking around at friends and classmates, each in their own 6-by-6 world, I feel an overwhelming sense of normalcy.

“One of the ways in which Wesleyan has prevented outbreaks on campus is by holding safe, socially distanced events that students want to attend. By giving us places to be and things to do on the weekends, we are discouraged from breaking rules and causing outbreaks at ‘super-spreader’ events.”

An op-ed written by Luna Mac-Williams ’22 and Daëlle Coriolan ’24 titled “ Collectivist Practices to Combat COVID-19 ” was published in the Wesleyan Argus .

“We are embroiled in a global pandemic that disproportionately affects poor communities of color, and in the midst of a higher cultural consciousness of systemic inequities,” they wrote. “A cultural shift to center collectivist thought and action not only would prove helpful in disease prevention, but also belongs in conversation with the Black Lives Matter movement. Collectivist models of thinking effectively target the needs of vulnerable populations including the sick, the disenfranchised, the systematically marginalized. Collectivist systems provide care, decentering the capitalist, individualist system, and focusing on how communities can work to be self-sufficient and uplift our own neighbors.”

An essay written by Maria Noto ’21 , titled “ U.S. Individualism Has Deadly Consequences ,” is published in the Oneonta Daily Star , based in Oneonta, N.Y.

She wrote, “When analyzing the cultures of certain East Asian countries, several differences stand out. For instance, when people are sick and during the cold and flu season, many East Asian cultures, including South Korea, use mask-wearing. What is considered a threat to freedom by some Americans is a preventive action and community obligation in this example. This, along with many other cultural differences, is insightful in understanding their ability to contain the virus.

“These differences are deeply seeded in the values of a culture. However, there is hope for the U.S. and other individualistic cultures in recognizing and adopting these community-centered approaches. Our mindset needs to be revolutionized with the help of federal and local assistance: mandating masks, passing another stimulus package, contact tracing, etc… However, these measures will be unsuccessful unless everyone participates for the good of a community.”

Madison Szabo '23, Caitlyn Ferrante '23

A published op-ed by Madison Szabo ’23 , Caitlyn Ferrante ’23 ran in the Two Rivers Times . The piece is titled “ Anxiety and Aspiration: Analyzing the Politicization of the Pandemic .”

John Lee ’21 and Taylor Goodman-Leong ’21 have published their op-ed titled “ Reassessing the media’s approach to COVID-19 ” in Weekly Monday Cafe 24 (Page 2).

An essay by Eleanor Raab ’21 and Elizabeth Nefferdorf ’22 titled “ Preventing the Next Epidemic ” was published in The Almanac .

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Act on Student Ideas to Improve Mental Health, Youth Advocate Urges

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As schools confront a youth mental health crisis, they must engage students in finding solutions, said Rick Yang, 17, a senior at Scarsdale High School in New York.

The Jed Foundation (JED), an organization that promotes mental health and suicide prevention for teens and young adults, honored Yang as one of two recipients of its 2024 Student Voice of Mental Health Award in recognition of his state and local advocacy work.

Yang, who is Chinese American, was inspired to action when he saw the barriers a fellow Asian American friend faced in seeking mental health treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. He attributes some of those barriers to the “model minority myth,” a term that refers to cultural stereotypes of Asian American students as high-achieving and academically gifted—a perception that may cause some adults and peers to overlook their needs.

He later advocated for wellness centers in his school district , and he co-founded “Frontiers of Fulfillment,” a group that provides online coaching for student leaders to advocate for policies like excused school absences for mental health.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How did your experience during the COVID-19 pandemic influence your advocacy?

I was pretty isolated during [the beginning of] the pandemic. As an incoming freshman, I would say that my transition from middle school to high school wasn’t the greatest. I started high school half remote and half in-person, and it was pretty surreal to live in a world where I kind of stuck in my room most of the time.

Rick Yang

I was pretty depressed, locked in my room, playing every video game you could possibly imagine. And sometimes I was even unable to eat dinner with my family. And I think it was certainly that experience, coupled with what I went through with my friend, that showed me that student mental health was a real concern that needed to be addressed.

My friend and I would FaceTime every night. She was depressed and wanted to seek help, but her parents wouldn’t let her at first. They eventually did, and she was actually diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Now she’s doing great; she’s thriving now.

My hypothesis is that—coming from a relatively high-achieving community with a lot of Asian Americans—the model minority myth prevented [her family] from seeking help. She’s a good student, and they didn’t want her to be perceived as weak.

How does your cultural identity as a Chinese American inform your work?

Oftentimes, culture and mental health are interconnected. When we approach mental health challenges in a certain community, I think it’s important to understand how the people in that community have grown up.

I try to highlight the diversity among Asian Americans because we are obviously not all the same. But a lot of us have encountered the model minority myth, even through subtle microaggressions in the hallways. I try to promote education among adults, including teachers, to break down some of the barriers that might keep students from seeking care.

How can schools more effectively address student mental health?

Mental health supports need to be comprehensive in order to effectively reach students. That means all students should be considered, supported, and protected. What works for one student may not help another. There is no one-size-fits-all approach.

What I admire about the Jed Foundation is [its] comprehensive approach to mental health promotion and suicide prevention. It recognizes that there are multiple areas of well-being—like learning about life skills, or having a counseling center—that can make a difference in someone’s life.

Ultimately, I think schools need to listen to the students themselves.

How did you advocate for student mental health in your school district?

The main initiative I started is called SchoolSight. In 2021, I realized the stress students faced at Scarsdale High School needed to be addressed. I attended a conference with Congressman Jamal Bowman where I essentially crafted a proposal to implement universal school-based wellness centers in Westchester County, which eventually blossomed into a countywide initiative.

The response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic. I began creating blueprints for introducing these [centers] in schools—universal wellness spaces for all students—starting with a pilot in my high school. So far, I’ve secured over $125,000 in grant funding to develop these spaces. They include things like de-stress zones with beanbags and yoga balls, board games, and places to study privately. Eventually, I’d like to see this scaled up to other districts.

What do you want educators to know about student mental health?

If we genuinely want to make a difference, we must not only allow but actively encourage young people to speak up. We must create environments where young people feel safe to express their thoughts, struggles, and ideas and treat them as equal partners. It fosters a sense of ownership and empowerment among the youth when they see their ideas and feedback being taken seriously.

I think school administrators, policymakers, community leaders must not only try to create platforms for youth to express their views, but they need to actually use that input in decision-making. Co-creation and agency are essential for young people to feel supported.

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3. problems students are facing at public k-12 schools.

We asked teachers about how students are doing at their school. Overall, many teachers hold negative views about students’ academic performance and behavior.

  • 48% say the academic performance of most students at their school is fair or poor; a third say it’s good and only 17% say it’s excellent or very good.
  • 49% say students’ behavior at their school is fair or poor; 35% say it’s good and 13% rate it as excellent or very good.

Teachers in elementary, middle and high schools give similar answers when asked about students’ academic performance. But when it comes to students’ behavior, elementary and middle school teachers are more likely than high school teachers to say it’s fair or poor (51% and 54%, respectively, vs. 43%).

A horizontal stacked bar chart showing that many teachers hold negative views about students’ academic performance and behavior.

Teachers from high-poverty schools are more likely than those in medium- and low-poverty schools to say the academic performance and behavior of most students at their school are fair or poor.

The differences between high- and low-poverty schools are particularly striking. Most teachers from high-poverty schools say the academic performance (73%) and behavior (64%) of most students at their school are fair or poor. Much smaller shares of teachers from low-poverty schools say the same (27% for academic performance and 37% for behavior).

In turn, teachers from low-poverty schools are far more likely than those from high-poverty schools to say the academic performance and behavior of most students at their school are excellent or very good.

Lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

A horizontal stacked bar chart showing that most teachers say the pandemic has had a lasting negative impact on students’ behavior, academic performance and emotional well-being.

Among those who have been teaching for at least a year, about eight-in-ten teachers say the lasting impact of the pandemic on students’ behavior, academic performance and emotional well-being has been very or somewhat negative. This includes about a third or more saying that the lasting impact has been very negative in each area.

Shares ranging from 11% to 15% of teachers say the pandemic has had no lasting impact on these aspects of students’ lives, or that the impact has been neither positive nor negative. Only about 5% say that the pandemic has had a positive lasting impact on these things.

A smaller majority of teachers (55%) say the pandemic has had a negative impact on the way parents interact with teachers, with 18% saying its lasting impact has been very negative.

These results are mostly consistent across teachers of different grade levels and school poverty levels.

Major problems at school

When we asked teachers about a range of problems that may affect students who attend their school, the following issues top the list:

  • Poverty (53% say this is a major problem at their school)
  • Chronic absenteeism – that is, students missing a substantial number of school days (49%)
  • Anxiety and depression (48%)

One-in-five say bullying is a major problem among students at their school. Smaller shares of teachers point to drug use (14%), school fights (12%), alcohol use (4%) and gangs (3%).

Differences by school level

A bar chart showing that high school teachers more likely to say chronic absenteeism, anxiety and depression are major problems.

Similar shares of teachers across grade levels say poverty is a major problem at their school, but other problems are more common in middle or high schools:

  • 61% of high school teachers say chronic absenteeism is a major problem at their school, compared with 43% of elementary school teachers and 46% of middle school teachers.
  • 69% of high school teachers and 57% of middle school teachers say anxiety and depression are a major problem, compared with 29% of elementary school teachers.
  • 34% of middle school teachers say bullying is a major problem, compared with 13% of elementary school teachers and 21% of high school teachers.

Not surprisingly, drug use, school fights, alcohol use and gangs are more likely to be viewed as major problems by secondary school teachers than by those teaching in elementary schools.

Differences by poverty level

A dot plot showing that majorities of teachers in medium- and high-poverty schools say chronic absenteeism is a major problem.

Teachers’ views on problems students face at their school also vary by school poverty level.

Majorities of teachers in high- and medium-poverty schools say chronic absenteeism is a major problem where they teach (66% and 58%, respectively). A much smaller share of teachers in low-poverty schools say this (34%).

Bullying, school fights and gangs are viewed as major problems by larger shares of teachers in high-poverty schools than in medium- and low-poverty schools.

When it comes to anxiety and depression, a slightly larger share of teachers in low-poverty schools (51%) than in high-poverty schools (44%) say these are a major problem among students where they teach.  

Discipline practices

A pie chart showing that a majority of teachers say discipline practices at their school are mild.

About two-thirds of teachers (66%) say that the current discipline practices at their school are very or somewhat mild – including 27% who say they’re very mild. Only 2% say the discipline practices at their school are very or somewhat harsh, while 31% say they are neither harsh nor mild.

We also asked teachers about the amount of influence different groups have when it comes to determining discipline practices at their school.

  • 67% say teachers themselves don’t have enough influence. Very few (2%) say teachers have too much influence, and 29% say their influence is about right.

A diverging bar chart showing that two-thirds of teachers say they don’t have enough influence over discipline practices at their school.

  • 31% of teachers say school administrators don’t have enough influence, 22% say they have too much, and 45% say their influence is about right.
  • On balance, teachers are more likely to say parents, their state government and the local school board have too much influence rather than not enough influence in determining discipline practices at their school. Still, substantial shares say these groups have about the right amount of influence.

Teachers from low- and medium-poverty schools (46% each) are more likely than those in high-poverty schools (36%) to say parents have too much influence over discipline practices.

In turn, teachers from high-poverty schools (34%) are more likely than those from low- and medium-poverty schools (17% and 18%, respectively) to say that parents don’t have enough influence.

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Students’ experience of online learning during the COVID‐19 pandemic: A province‐wide survey study

Lixiang yan.

1 Centre for Learning Analytics at Monash, Faculty of Information Technology, Monash University, Clayton VIC, Australia

Alexander Whitelock‐Wainwright

2 Portfolio of the Deputy Vice‐Chancellor (Education), Monash University, Melbourne VIC, Australia

Quanlong Guan

3 Department of Computer Science, Jinan University, Guangzhou China

Gangxin Wen

4 College of Cyber Security, Jinan University, Guangzhou China

Dragan Gašević

Guanliang chen, associated data.

The data is not openly available as it is restricted by the Chinese government.

Online learning is currently adopted by educational institutions worldwide to provide students with ongoing education during the COVID‐19 pandemic. Even though online learning research has been advancing in uncovering student experiences in various settings (i.e., tertiary, adult, and professional education), very little progress has been achieved in understanding the experience of the K‐12 student population, especially when narrowed down to different school‐year segments (i.e., primary and secondary school students). This study explores how students at different stages of their K‐12 education reacted to the mandatory full‐time online learning during the COVID‐19 pandemic. For this purpose, we conducted a province‐wide survey study in which the online learning experience of 1,170,769 Chinese students was collected from the Guangdong Province of China. We performed cross‐tabulation and Chi‐square analysis to compare students’ online learning conditions, experiences, and expectations. Results from this survey study provide evidence that students’ online learning experiences are significantly different across school years. Foremost, policy implications were made to advise government authorises and schools on improving the delivery of online learning, and potential directions were identified for future research into K‐12 online learning.

Practitioner notes

What is already known about this topic

  • Online learning has been widely adopted during the COVID‐19 pandemic to ensure the continuation of K‐12 education.
  • Student success in K‐12 online education is substantially lower than in conventional schools.
  • Students experienced various difficulties related to the delivery of online learning.

What this paper adds

  • Provide empirical evidence for the online learning experience of students in different school years.
  • Identify the different needs of students in primary, middle, and high school.
  • Identify the challenges of delivering online learning to students of different age.

Implications for practice and/or policy

  • Authority and schools need to provide sufficient technical support to students in online learning.
  • The delivery of online learning needs to be customised for students in different school years.

INTRODUCTION

The ongoing COVID‐19 pandemic poses significant challenges to the global education system. By July 2020, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (2020) reported nationwide school closure in 111 countries, affecting over 1.07 billion students, which is around 61% of the global student population. Traditional brick‐and‐mortar schools are forced to transform into full‐time virtual schools to provide students with ongoing education (Van Lancker & Parolin,  2020 ). Consequently, students must adapt to the transition from face‐to‐face learning to fully remote online learning, where synchronous video conferences, social media, and asynchronous discussion forums become their primary venues for knowledge construction and peer communication.

For K‐12 students, this sudden transition is problematic as they often lack prior online learning experience (Barbour & Reeves,  2009 ). Barbour and LaBonte ( 2017 ) estimated that even in countries where online learning is growing rapidly, such as USA and Canada, less than 10% of the K‐12 student population had prior experience with this format. Maladaptation to online learning could expose inexperienced students to various vulnerabilities, including decrements in academic performance (Molnar et al.,  2019 ), feeling of isolation (Song et al.,  2004 ), and lack of learning motivation (Muilenburg & Berge,  2005 ). Unfortunately, with confirmed cases continuing to rise each day, and new outbreaks occur on a global scale, full‐time online learning for most students could last longer than anticipated (World Health Organization,  2020 ). Even after the pandemic, the current mass adoption of online learning could have lasting impacts on the global education system, and potentially accelerate and expand the rapid growth of virtual schools on a global scale (Molnar et al.,  2019 ). Thus, understanding students' learning conditions and their experiences of online learning during the COVID pandemic becomes imperative.

Emerging evidence on students’ online learning experience during the COVID‐19 pandemic has identified several major concerns, including issues with internet connection (Agung et al.,  2020 ; Basuony et al.,  2020 ), problems with IT equipment (Bączek et al.,  2021 ; Niemi & Kousa,  2020 ), limited collaborative learning opportunities (Bączek et al.,  2021 ; Yates et al.,  2020 ), reduced learning motivation (Basuony et al.,  2020 ; Niemi & Kousa,  2020 ; Yates et al.,  2020 ), and increased learning burdens (Niemi & Kousa,  2020 ). Although these findings provided valuable insights about the issues students experienced during online learning, information about their learning conditions and future expectations were less mentioned. Such information could assist educational authorises and institutions to better comprehend students’ difficulties and potentially improve their online learning experience. Additionally, most of these recent studies were limited to higher education, except for Yates et al. ( 2020 ) and Niemi and Kousa’s ( 2020 ) studies on senior high school students. Empirical research targeting the full spectrum of K‐12students remain scarce. Therefore, to address these gaps, the current paper reports the findings of a large‐scale study that sought to explore K‐12 students’ online learning experience during the COVID‐19 pandemic in a provincial sample of over one million Chinese students. The findings of this study provide policy recommendations to educational institutions and authorities regarding the delivery of K‐12 online education.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Learning conditions and technologies.

Having stable access to the internet is critical to students’ learning experience during online learning. Berge ( 2005 ) expressed the concern of the divide in digital‐readiness, and the pedagogical approach between different countries could influence students’ online learning experience. Digital‐readiness is the availability and adoption of information technologies and infrastructures in a country. Western countries like America (3rd) scored significantly higher in digital‐readiness compared to Asian countries like China (54th; Cisco,  2019 ). Students from low digital‐readiness countries could experience additional technology‐related problems. Supporting evidence is emerging in recent studies conducted during the COVID‐19 pandemic. In Egypt's capital city, Basuony et al. ( 2020 ) found that only around 13.9%of the students experienced issues with their internet connection. Whereas more than two‐thirds of the students in rural Indonesia reported issues of unstable internet, insufficient internet data, and incompatible learning device (Agung et al.,  2020 ).

Another influential factor for K‐12 students to adequately adapt to online learning is the accessibility of appropriate technological devices, especially having access to a desktop or a laptop (Barbour et al., 2018 ). However, it is unlikely for most of the students to satisfy this requirement. Even in higher education, around 76% of students reported having incompatible devices for online learning and only 15% of students used laptop for online learning, whereas around 85% of them used smartphone (Agung et al.,  2020 ). It is very likely that K‐12 students also suffer from this availability issue as they depend on their parents to provide access to relevant learning devices.

Technical issues surrounding technological devices could also influence students’ experience in online learning. (Barbour & Reeves,  2009 ) argues that students need to have a high level of digital literacy to find and use relevant information and communicate with others through technological devices. Students lacking this ability could experience difficulties in online learning. Bączek et al. ( 2021 ) found that around 54% of the medical students experienced technical problems with IT equipment and this issue was more prevalent in students with lower years of tertiary education. Likewise, Niemi and Kousa ( 2020 ) also find that students in a Finish high school experienced increased amounts of technical problems during the examination period, which involved additional technical applications. These findings are concerning as young children and adolescent in primary and lower secondary school could be more vulnerable to these technical problems as they are less experienced with the technologies in online learning (Barbour & LaBonte,  2017 ). Therefore, it is essential to investigate the learning conditions and the related difficulties experienced by students in K‐12 education as the extend of effects on them remain underexplored.

Learning experience and interactions

Apart from the aforementioned issues, the extent of interaction and collaborative learning opportunities available in online learning could also influence students’ experience. The literature on online learning has long emphasised the role of effective interaction for the success of student learning. According to Muirhead and Juwah ( 2004 ), interaction is an event that can take the shape of any type of communication between two or subjects and objects. Specifically, the literature acknowledges the three typical forms of interactions (Moore,  1989 ): (i) student‐content, (ii) student‐student, and (iii) student‐teacher. Anderson ( 2003 ) posits, in the well‐known interaction equivalency theorem, learning experiences will not deteriorate if only one of the three interaction is of high quality, and the other two can be reduced or even eliminated. Quality interaction can be accomplished by across two dimensions: (i) structure—pedagogical means that guide student interaction with contents or other students and (ii) dialogue—communication that happens between students and teachers and among students. To be able to scale online learning and prevent the growth of teaching costs, the emphasise is typically on structure (i.e., pedagogy) that can promote effective student‐content and student‐student interaction. The role of technology and media is typically recognised as a way to amplify the effect of pedagogy (Lou et al.,  2006 ). Novel technological innovations—for example learning analytics‐based personalised feedback at scale (Pardo et al.,  2019 ) —can also empower teachers to promote their interaction with students.

Online education can lead to a sense of isolation, which can be detrimental to student success (McInnerney & Roberts,  2004 ). Therefore, integration of social interaction into pedagogy for online learning is essential, especially at the times when students do not actually know each other or have communication and collaboration skills underdeveloped (Garrison et al.,  2010 ; Gašević et al.,  2015 ). Unfortunately, existing evidence suggested that online learning delivery during the COVID‐19 pandemic often lacks interactivity and collaborative experiences (Bączek et al.,  2021 ; Yates et al.,  2020 ). Bączek et al., ( 2021 ) found that around half of the medical students reported reduced interaction with teachers, and only 4% of students think online learning classes are interactive. Likewise, Yates et al. ( 2020 )’s study in high school students also revealed that over half of the students preferred in‐class collaboration over online collaboration as they value the immediate support and the proximity to teachers and peers from in‐class interaction.

Learning expectations and age differentiation

Although these studies have provided valuable insights and stressed the need for more interactivity in online learning, K‐12 students in different school years could exhibit different expectations for the desired activities in online learning. Piaget's Cognitive Developmental Theory illustrated children's difficulties in understanding abstract and hypothetical concepts (Thomas,  2000 ). Primary school students will encounter many abstract concepts in their STEM education (Uttal & Cohen,  2012 ). In face‐to‐face learning, teachers provide constant guidance on students’ learning progress and can help them to understand difficult concepts. Unfortunately, the level of guidance significantly drops in online learning, and, in most cases, children have to face learning obstacles by themselves (Barbour,  2013 ). Additionally, lower primary school students may lack the metacognitive skills to use various online learning functions, maintain engagement in synchronous online learning, develop and execute self‐regulated learning plans, and engage in meaningful peer interactions during online learning (Barbour,  2013 ; Broadbent & Poon,  2015 ; Huffaker & Calvert, 2003; Wang et al.,  2013 ). Thus, understanding these younger students’ expectations is imperative as delivering online learning to them in the same way as a virtual high school could hinder their learning experiences. For students with more matured metacognition, their expectations of online learning could be substantially different from younger students. Niemi et al.’s study ( 2020 ) with students in a Finish high school have found that students often reported heavy workload and fatigue during online learning. These issues could cause anxiety and reduce students’ learning motivation, which would have negative consequences on their emotional well‐being and academic performance (Niemi & Kousa,  2020 ; Yates et al.,  2020 ), especially for senior students who are under the pressure of examinations. Consequently, their expectations of online learning could be orientated toward having additional learning support functions and materials. Likewise, they could also prefer having more opportunities for peer interactions as these interactions are beneficial to their emotional well‐being and learning performance (Gašević et al., 2013 ; Montague & Rinaldi, 2001 ). Therefore, it is imperative to investigate the differences between online learning expectations in students of different school years to suit their needs better.

Research questions

By building upon the aforementioned relevant works, this study aimed to contribute to the online learning literature with a comprehensive understanding of the online learning experience that K‐12 students had during the COVID‐19 pandemic period in China. Additionally, this study also aimed to provide a thorough discussion of what potential actions can be undertaken to improve online learning delivery. Formally, this study was guided by three research questions (RQs):

RQ1 . What learning conditions were experienced by students across 12 years of education during their online learning process in the pandemic period? RQ2 . What benefits and obstacles were perceived by students across 12 years of education when performing online learning? RQ3 . What expectations do students, across 12 years of education, have for future online learning practices ?

Participants

The total number of K‐12 students in the Guangdong Province of China is around 15 million. In China, students of Year 1–6, Year 7–9, and Year 10–12 are referred to as students of primary school, middle school, and high school, respectively. Typically, students in China start their study in primary school at the age of around six. At the end of their high‐school study, students have to take the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE; also known as Gaokao) to apply for tertiary education. The survey was administrated across the whole Guangdong Province, that is the survey was exposed to all of the 15 million K‐12 students, though it was not mandatory for those students to accomplish the survey. A total of 1,170,769 students completed the survey, which accounts for a response rate of 7.80%. After removing responses with missing values and responses submitted from the same IP address (duplicates), we had 1,048,575 valid responses, which accounts to about 7% of the total K‐12 students in the Guangdong Province. The number of students in different school years is shown in Figure  1 . Overall, students were evenly distributed across different school years, except for a smaller sample in students of Year 10–12.

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The number of students in each school year

Survey design

The survey was designed collaboratively by multiple relevant parties. Firstly, three educational researchers working in colleges and universities and three educational practitioners working in the Department of Education in Guangdong Province were recruited to co‐design the survey. Then, the initial draft of the survey was sent to 30 teachers from different primary and secondary schools, whose feedback and suggestions were considered to improve the survey. The final survey consisted of a total of 20 questions, which, broadly, can be classified into four categories: demographic, behaviours, experiences, and expectations. Details are available in Appendix.

All K‐12 students in the Guangdong Province were made to have full‐time online learning from March 1, 2020 after the outbreak of COVID‐19 in January in China. A province‐level online learning platform was provided to all schools by the government. In addition to the learning platform, these schools can also use additional third‐party platforms to facilitate the teaching activities, for example WeChat and Dingding, which provide services similar to WhatsApp and Zoom. The main change for most teachers was that they had to shift the classroom‐based lectures to online lectures with the aid of web‐conferencing tools. Similarly, these teachers also needed to perform homework marking and have consultation sessions in an online manner.

The Department of Education in the Guangdong Province of China distributed the survey to all K‐12 schools in the province on March 21, 2020 and collected responses on March 26, 2020. Students could access and answer the survey anonymously by either scan the Quick Response code along with the survey or click the survey address link on their mobile device. The survey was administrated in a completely voluntary manner and no incentives were given to the participants. Ethical approval was granted by the Department of Education in the Guangdong Province. Parental approval was not required since the survey was entirely anonymous and facilitated by the regulating authority, which satisfies China's ethical process.

The original survey was in Chinese, which was later translated by two bilingual researchers and verified by an external translator who is certified by the Australian National Accreditation Authority of Translators and Interpreters. The original and translated survey questionnaires are available in Supporting Information. Given the limited space we have here and the fact that not every survey item is relevant to the RQs, the following items were chosen to answer the RQs: item Q3 (learning media) and Q11 (learning approaches) for RQ1, item Q13 (perceived obstacle) and Q19 (perceived benefits) for RQ2, and item Q19 (expected learning activities) for RQ3. Cross‐tabulation based approaches were used to analyse the collected data. To scrutinise whether the differences displayed by students of different school years were statistically significant, we performed Chi‐square tests and calculated the Cramer's V to assess the strengths of the association after chi‐square had determined significance.

For the analyses, students were segmented into four categories based on their school years, that is Year 1–3, Year 4–6, Year 7–9, and Year 10–12, to provide a clear understanding of the different experiences and needs that different students had for online learning. This segmentation was based on the educational structure of Chinese schools: elementary school (Year 1–6), middle school (Year 7–9), and high school (Year 10–12). Children in elementary school can further be segmented into junior (Year 1–3) or senior (Year 4–6) students because senior elementary students in China are facing more workloads compared to junior students due to the provincial Middle School Entry Examination at the end of Year 6.

Learning conditions—RQ1

Learning media.

The Chi‐square test showed significant association between school years and students’ reported usage of learning media, χ 2 (55, N  = 1,853,952) = 46,675.38, p  < 0.001. The Cramer's V is 0.07 ( df ∗ = 5), which indicates a small‐to‐medium effect according to Cohen’s ( 1988 ) guidelines. Based on Figure  2 , we observed that an average of up to 87.39% students used smartphones to perform online learning, while only 25.43% students used computer, which suggests that smartphones, with widespread availability in China (2020), have been adopted by students for online learning. As for the prevalence of the two media, we noticed that both smartphones ( χ 2 (3, N  = 1,048,575) = 9,395.05, p < 0.001, Cramer's V  = 0.10 ( df ∗ = 1)) and computers ( χ 2 (3, N  = 1,048,575) = 11,025.58, p <.001, Cramer's V  = 0.10 ( df ∗ = 1)) were more adopted by high‐school‐year (Year 7–12) than early‐school‐year students (Year 1–6), both with a small effect size. Besides, apparent discrepancies can be observed between the usages of TV and paper‐based materials across different school years, that is early‐school‐year students reported more TV usage ( χ 2 (3, N  = 1,048,575) = 19,505.08, p <.001), with a small‐to‐medium effect size, Cramer's V  = 0.14( df ∗ = 1). High‐school‐year students (especially Year 10–12) reported more usage of paper‐based materials ( χ 2 (3, N  = 1,048,575) = 23,401.64, p < 0.001), with a small‐to‐medium effect size, Cramer's V  = 0.15( df ∗ = 1).

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Learning media used by students in online learning

Learning approaches

School years is also significantly associated with the different learning approaches students used to tackle difficult concepts during online learning, χ 2 (55, N  = 2,383,751) = 58,030.74, p < 0.001. The strength of this association is weak to moderate as shown by the Cramer's V (0.07, df ∗ = 5; Cohen,  1988 ). When encountering problems related to difficult concepts, students typically chose to “solve independently by searching online” or “rewatch recorded lectures” instead of consulting to their teachers or peers (Figure  3 ). This is probably because, compared to classroom‐based education, it is relatively less convenient and more challenging for students to seek help from others when performing online learning. Besides, compared to high‐school‐year students, early‐school‐year students (Year 1–6), reported much less use of “solve independently by searching online” ( χ 2 (3, N  = 1,048,575) = 48,100.15, p <.001), with a small‐to‐medium effect size, Cramer's V  = 0.21 ( df ∗ = 1). Also, among those approaches of seeking help from others, significantly more high‐school‐year students preferred “communicating with other students” than early‐school‐year students ( χ 2 (3, N  = 1,048,575) = 81,723.37, p < 0.001), with a medium effect size, Cramer's V  = 0.28 ( df ∗ = 1).

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Learning approaches used by students in online learning

Perceived benefits and obstacles—RQ2

Perceived benefits.

The association between school years and perceived benefits in online learning is statistically significant, χ 2 (66, N  = 2,716,127) = 29,534.23, p  < 0.001, and the Cramer's V (0.04, df ∗ = 6) indicates a small effect (Cohen,  1988 ). Unsurprisingly, benefits brought by the convenience of online learning are widely recognised by students across all school years (Figure  4 ), that is up to 75% of students reported that it is “more convenient to review course content” and 54% said that they “can learn anytime and anywhere” . Besides, we noticed that about 50% of early‐school‐year students appreciated the “access to courses delivered by famous teachers” and 40%–47% of high‐school‐year students indicated that online learning is “helpful to develop self‐regulation and autonomy” .

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Perceived benefits of online learning reported by students

Perceived obstacles

The Chi‐square test shows a significant association between school years and students’ perceived obstacles in online learning, χ 2 (77, N  = 2,699,003) = 31,987.56, p < 0.001. This association is relatively weak as shown by the Cramer's V (0.04, df ∗ = 7; Cohen,  1988 ). As shown in Figure  5 , the biggest obstacles encountered by up to 73% of students were the “eyestrain caused by long staring at screens” . Disengagement caused by nearby disturbance was reported by around 40% of students, especially those of Year 1–3 and 10–12. Technological‐wise, about 50% of students experienced poor Internet connection during their learning process, and around 20% of students reported the “confusion in setting up the platforms” across of school years.

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Perceived obstacles of online learning reported by students

Expectations for future practices of online learning – RQ3

Online learning activities.

The association between school years and students’ expected online learning activities is significant, χ 2 (66, N  = 2,416,093) = 38,784.81, p < 0.001. The Cramer's V is 0.05 ( df ∗ = 6) which suggests a small effect (Cohen,  1988 ). As shown in Figure  6 , the most expected activity for future online learning is “real‐time interaction with teachers” (55%), followed by “online group discussion and collaboration” (38%). We also observed that more early‐school‐year students expect reflective activities, such as “regular online practice examinations” ( χ 2 (3, N  = 1,048,575) = 11,644.98, p < 0.001), with a small effect size, Cramer's V  = 0.11 ( df ∗ = 1). In contrast, more high‐school‐year students expect “intelligent recommendation system …” ( χ 2 (3, N  = 1,048,575) = 15,327.00, p < 0.001), with a small effect size, Cramer's V  = 0.12 ( df ∗ = 1).

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Students’ expected online learning activities

Regarding students’ learning conditions, substantial differences were observed in learning media, family dependency, and learning approaches adopted in online learning between students in different school years. The finding of more computer and smartphone usage in high‐school‐year than early‐school‐year students can probably be explained by that, with the growing abilities in utilising these media as well as the educational systems and tools which run on these media, high‐school‐year students tend to make better use of these media for online learning practices. Whereas, the differences in paper‐based materials may imply that high‐school‐year students in China have to accomplish a substantial amount of exercise, assignments, and exam papers to prepare for the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE), whose delivery was not entirely digitised due to the sudden transition to online learning. Meanwhile, high‐school‐year students may also have preferred using paper‐based materials for exam practice, as eventually, they would take their NCEE in the paper format. Therefore, these substantial differences in students’ usage of learning media should be addressed by customising the delivery method of online learning for different school years.

Other than these between‐age differences in learning media, the prevalence of smartphone in online learning resonates with Agung et al.’s ( 2020 ) finding on the issues surrounding the availability of compatible learning device. The prevalence of smartphone in K‐12 students is potentially problematic as the majority of the online learning platform and content is designed for computer‐based learning (Berge,  2005 ; Molnar et al.,  2019 ). Whereas learning with smartphones has its own unique challenges. For example, Gikas and Grant ( 2013 ) discovered that students who learn with smartphone experienced frustration with the small screen‐size, especially when trying to type with the tiny keypad. Another challenge relates to the distraction of various social media applications. Although similar distractions exist in computer and web‐based social media, the level of popularity, especially in the young generation, are much higher in mobile‐based social media (Montag et al.,  2018 ). In particular, the message notification function in smartphones could disengage students from learning activities and allure them to social media applications (Gikas & Grant,  2013 ). Given these challenges of learning with smartphones, more research efforts should be devoted to analysing students’ online learning behaviour in the setting of mobile learning to accommodate their needs better.

The differences in learning approaches, once again, illustrated that early‐school‐year students have different needs compared to high‐school‐year students. In particular, the low usage of the independent learning methods in early‐school‐year students may reflect their inability to engage in independent learning. Besides, the differences in help seeking behaviours demonstrated the distinctive needs for communication and interaction between different students, that is early‐school‐year students have a strong reliance on teachers and high‐school‐year students, who are equipped with stronger communication ability, are more inclined to interact with their peers. This finding implies that the design of online learning platforms should take students’ different needs into account. Thus, customisation is urgently needed for the delivery of online learning to different school years.

In terms of the perceived benefits and challenges of online learning, our results resonate with several previous findings. In particular, the benefits of convenience are in line with the flexibility advantages of online learning, which were mentioned in prior works (Appana,  2008 ; Bączek et al.,  2021 ; Barbour,  2013 ; Basuony et al.,  2020 ; Harvey et al.,  2014 ). Early‐school‐year students’ higher appreciation in having “access to courses delivered by famous teachers” and lower appreciation in the independent learning skills developed through online learning are also in line with previous literature (Barbour,  2013 ; Harvey et al.,  2014 ; Oliver et al.,  2009 ). Again, these similar findings may indicate the strong reliance that early‐school‐year students place on teachers, while high‐school‐year students are more capable of adapting to online learning by developing independent learning skills.

Technology‐wise, students’ experience of poor internet connection and confusion in setting up online learning platforms are particularly concerning. The problem of poor internet connection corroborated the findings reported in prior studies (Agung et al.,  2020 ; Barbour,  2013 ; Basuony et al.,  2020 ; Berge,  2005 ; Rice,  2006 ), that is the access issue surrounded the digital divide as one of the main challenges of online learning. In the era of 4G and 5G networks, educational authorities and institutions that deliver online education could fall into the misconception of most students have a stable internet connection at home. The internet issue we observed is particularly vital to students’ online learning experience as most students prefer real‐time communications (Figure  6 ), which rely heavily on stable internet connection. Likewise, the finding of students’ confusion in technology is also consistent with prior studies (Bączek et al.,  2021 ; Muilenburg & Berge,  2005 ; Niemi & Kousa,  2020 ; Song et al.,  2004 ). Students who were unsuccessfully in setting up the online learning platforms could potentially experience declines in confidence and enthusiasm for online learning, which would cause a subsequent unpleasant learning experience. Therefore, both the readiness of internet infrastructure and student technical skills remain as the significant challenges for the mass‐adoption of online learning.

On the other hand, students’ experience of eyestrain from extended screen time provided empirical evidence to support Spitzer’s ( 2001 ) speculation about the potential ergonomic impact of online learning. This negative effect is potentially related to the prevalence of smartphone device and the limited screen size of these devices. This finding not only demonstrates the potential ergonomic issues that would be caused by smartphone‐based online learning but also resonates with the aforementioned necessity of different platforms and content designs for different students.

A less‐mentioned problem in previous studies on online learning experiences is the disengagement caused by nearby disturbance, especially in Year 1–3 and 10–12. It is likely that early‐school‐year students suffered from this problem because of their underdeveloped metacognitive skills to concentrate on online learning without teachers’ guidance. As for high‐school‐year students, the reasons behind their disengagement require further investigation in the future. Especially it would be worthwhile to scrutinise whether this type of disengagement is caused by the substantial amount of coursework they have to undertake and the subsequent a higher level of pressure and a lower level of concentration while learning.

Across age‐level differences are also apparent in terms of students’ expectations of online learning. Although, our results demonstrated students’ needs of gaining social interaction with others during online learning, findings (Bączek et al.,  2021 ; Harvey et al.,  2014 ; Kuo et al.,  2014 ; Liu & Cavanaugh,  2012 ; Yates et al.,  2020 ). This need manifested differently across school years, with early‐school‐year students preferring more teacher interactions and learning regulation support. Once again, this finding may imply that early‐school‐year students are inadequate in engaging with online learning without proper guidance from their teachers. Whereas, high‐school‐year students prefer more peer interactions and recommendation to learning resources. This expectation can probably be explained by the large amount of coursework exposed to them. Thus, high‐school‐year students need further guidance to help them better direct their learning efforts. These differences in students’ expectations for future practices could guide the customisation of online learning delivery.

Implications

As shown in our results, improving the delivery of online learning not only requires the efforts of policymakers but also depend on the actions of teachers and parents. The following sub‐sections will provide recommendations for relevant stakeholders and discuss their essential roles in supporting online education.

Technical support

The majority of the students has experienced technical problems during online learning, including the internet lagging and confusion in setting up the learning platforms. These problems with technology could impair students’ learning experience (Kauffman,  2015 ; Muilenburg & Berge,  2005 ). Educational authorities and schools should always provide a thorough guide and assistance for students who are experiencing technical problems with online learning platforms or other related tools. Early screening and detection could also assist schools and teachers to direct their efforts more effectively in helping students with low technology skills (Wilkinson et al.,  2010 ). A potential identification method involves distributing age‐specific surveys that assess students’ Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills at the beginning of online learning. For example, there are empirical validated ICT surveys available for both primary (Aesaert et al.,  2014 ) and high school (Claro et al.,  2012 ) students.

For students who had problems with internet lagging, the delivery of online learning should provide options that require fewer data and bandwidth. Lecture recording is the existing option but fails to address students’ need for real‐time interaction (Clark et al.,  2015 ; Malik & Fatima,  2017 ). A potential alternative involves providing students with the option to learn with digital or physical textbooks and audio‐conferencing, instead of screen sharing and video‐conferencing. This approach significantly reduces the amount of data usage and lowers the requirement of bandwidth for students to engage in smooth online interactions (Cisco,  2018 ). It also requires little additional efforts from teachers as official textbooks are often available for each school year, and thus, they only need to guide students through the materials during audio‐conferencing. Educational authority can further support this approach by making digital textbooks available for teachers and students, especially those in financial hardship. However, the lack of visual and instructor presence could potentially reduce students’ attention, recall of information, and satisfaction in online learning (Wang & Antonenko,  2017 ). Therefore, further research is required to understand whether the combination of digital or physical textbooks and audio‐conferencing is appropriate for students with internet problems. Alternatively, suppose the local technological infrastructure is well developed. In that case, governments and schools can also collaborate with internet providers to issue data and bandwidth vouchers for students who are experiencing internet problems due to financial hardship.

For future adoption of online learning, policymakers should consider the readiness of the local internet infrastructure. This recommendation is particularly important for developing countries, like Bangladesh, where the majority of the students reported the lack of internet infrastructure (Ramij & Sultana,  2020 ). In such environments, online education may become infeasible, and alternative delivery method could be more appropriate, for example, the Telesecundaria program provides TV education for rural areas of Mexico (Calderoni,  1998 ).

Other than technical problems, choosing a suitable online learning platform is also vital for providing students with a better learning experience. Governments and schools should choose an online learning platform that is customised for smartphone‐based learning, as the majority of students could be using smartphones for online learning. This recommendation is highly relevant for situations where students are forced or involuntarily engaged in online learning, like during the COVID‐19 pandemic, as they might not have access to a personal computer (Molnar et al.,  2019 ).

Customisation of delivery methods

Customising the delivery of online learning for students in different school years is the theme that appeared consistently across our findings. This customisation process is vital for making online learning an opportunity for students to develop independent learning skills, which could help prepare them for tertiary education and lifelong learning. However, the pedagogical design of K‐12 online learning programs should be differentiated from adult‐orientated programs as these programs are designed for independent learners, which is rarely the case for students in K‐12 education (Barbour & Reeves,  2009 ).

For early‐school‐year students, especially Year 1–3 students, providing them with sufficient guidance from both teachers and parents should be the priority as these students often lack the ability to monitor and reflect on learning progress. In particular, these students would prefer more real‐time interaction with teachers, tutoring from parents, and regular online practice examinations. These forms of guidance could help early‐school‐year students to cope with involuntary online learning, and potentially enhance their experience in future online learning. It should be noted that, early‐school‐year students demonstrated interest in intelligent monitoring and feedback systems for learning. Additional research is required to understand whether these young children are capable of understanding and using learning analytics that relay information on their learning progress. Similarly, future research should also investigate whether young children can communicate effectively through digital tools as potential inability could hinder student learning in online group activities. Therefore, the design of online learning for early‐school‐year students should focus less on independent learning but ensuring that students are learning effective under the guidance of teachers and parents.

In contrast, group learning and peer interaction are essential for older children and adolescents. The delivery of online learning for these students should focus on providing them with more opportunities to communicate with each other and engage in collaborative learning. Potential methods to achieve this goal involve assigning or encouraging students to form study groups (Lee et al.,  2011 ), directing students to use social media for peer communication (Dabbagh & Kitsantas,  2012 ), and providing students with online group assignments (Bickle & Rucker,  2018 ).

Special attention should be paid to students enrolled in high schools. For high‐school‐year students, in particular, students in Year 10–12, we also recommend to provide them with sufficient access to paper‐based learning materials, such as revision booklet and practice exam papers, so they remain familiar with paper‐based examinations. This recommendation applies to any students who engage in online learning but has to take their final examination in paper format. It is also imperative to assist high‐school‐year students who are facing examinations to direct their learning efforts better. Teachers can fulfil this need by sharing useful learning resources on the learning management system, if it is available, or through social media groups. Alternatively, students are interested in intelligent recommendation systems for learning resources, which are emerging in the literature (Corbi & Solans,  2014 ; Shishehchi et al.,  2010 ). These systems could provide personalised recommendations based on a series of evaluation on learners’ knowledge. Although it is infeasible for situations where the transformation to online learning happened rapidly (i.e., during the COVID‐19 pandemic), policymakers can consider embedding such systems in future online education.

Limitations

The current findings are limited to primary and secondary Chinese students who were involuntarily engaged in online learning during the COVID‐19 pandemic. Despite the large sample size, the population may not be representative as participants are all from a single province. Also, information about the quality of online learning platforms, teaching contents, and pedagogy approaches were missing because of the large scale of our study. It is likely that the infrastructures of online learning in China, such as learning platforms, instructional designs, and teachers’ knowledge about online pedagogy, were underprepared for the sudden transition. Thus, our findings may not represent the experience of students who voluntarily participated in well‐prepared online learning programs, in particular, the virtual school programs in America and Canada (Barbour & LaBonte,  2017 ; Molnar et al.,  2019 ). Lastly, the survey was only evaluated and validated by teachers but not students. Therefore, students with the lowest reading comprehension levels might have a different understanding of the items’ meaning, especially terminologies that involve abstract contracts like self‐regulation and autonomy in item Q17.

In conclusion, we identified across‐year differences between primary and secondary school students’ online learning experience during the COVID‐19 pandemic. Several recommendations were made for the future practice and research of online learning in the K‐12 student population. First, educational authorities and schools should provide sufficient technical support to help students to overcome potential internet and technical problems, as well as choosing online learning platforms that have been customised for smartphones. Second, customising the online pedagogy design for students in different school years, in particular, focusing on providing sufficient guidance for young children, more online collaborative opportunity for older children and adolescent, and additional learning resource for senior students who are facing final examinations.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

There is no potential conflict of interest in this study.

ETHICS STATEMENT

The data are collected by the Department of Education of the Guangdong Province who also has the authority to approve research studies in K12 education in the province.

Supporting information

Supplementary Material

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This work is supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (62077028, 61877029), the Science and Technology Planning Project of Guangdong (2020B0909030005, 2020B1212030003, 2020ZDZX3013, 2019B1515120010, 2018KTSCX016, 2019A050510024), the Science and Technology Planning Project of Guangzhou (201902010041), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (21617408, 21619404).

SURVEY ITEMS

Yan, L , Whitelock‐Wainwright, A , Guan, Q , Wen, G , Gašević, D , & Chen, G . Students’ experience of online learning during the COVID‐19 pandemic: A province‐wide survey study . Br J Educ Technol . 2021; 52 :2038–2057. 10.1111/bjet.13102 [ PMC free article ] [ PubMed ] [ CrossRef ] [ Google Scholar ]

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​Why School Absences Have ‘Exploded’ Almost Everywhere

The pandemic changed families’ lives and the culture of education: “Our relationship with school became optional.”

By Sarah Mervosh and Francesca Paris

Sarah Mervosh reports on K-12 education, and Francesca Paris is a data reporter.

In Anchorage, affluent families set off on ski trips and other lengthy vacations, with the assumption that their children can keep up with schoolwork online.

In a working-class pocket of Michigan, school administrators have tried almost everything, including pajama day, to boost student attendance.

And across the country, students with heightened anxiety are opting to stay home rather than face the classroom.

In the four years since the pandemic closed schools, U.S. education has struggled to recover on a number of fronts, from learning loss , to enrollment , to student behavior .

But perhaps no issue has been as stubborn and pervasive as a sharp increase in student absenteeism, a problem that cuts across demographics and has continued long after schools reopened.

Nationally, an estimated 26 percent of public school students were considered chronically absent last school year, up from 15 percent before the pandemic, according to the most recent data, from 40 states and Washington, D.C., compiled by the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute . Chronic absence is typically defined as missing at least 10 percent of the school year, or about 18 days, for any reason.

Source: Upshot analysis of data from Nat Malkus, American Enterprise Institute. Districts are grouped into highest, middle and lowest third.

The increases have occurred in districts big and small, and across income and race. For districts in wealthier areas, chronic absenteeism rates have about doubled, to 19 percent in the 2022-23 school year from 10 percent before the pandemic, a New York Times analysis of the data found.

Poor communities, which started with elevated rates of student absenteeism, are facing an even bigger crisis: Around 32 percent of students in the poorest districts were chronically absent in the 2022-23 school year, up from 19 percent before the pandemic.

Even districts that reopened quickly during the pandemic, in fall 2020, have seen vast increases.

“The problem got worse for everybody in the same proportional way,” said Nat Malkus, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, who collected and studied the data.

covid 19 student essay

Victoria, Texas reopened schools in August 2020, earlier than many other districts. Even so, student absenteeism in the district has doubled.

Kaylee Greenlee for The New York Times

The trends suggest that something fundamental has shifted in American childhood and the culture of school, in ways that may be long lasting. What was once a deeply ingrained habit — wake up, catch the bus, report to class — is now something far more tenuous.

“Our relationship with school became optional,” said Katie Rosanbalm, a psychologist and associate research professor with the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University.

The habit of daily attendance — and many families’ trust — was severed when schools shuttered in spring 2020. Even after schools reopened, things hardly snapped back to normal. Districts offered remote options, required Covid-19 quarantines and relaxed policies around attendance and grading .

Source: Nat Malkus, American Enterprise Institute . Includes districts with at least 1,500 students in 2019. Numbers are rounded. U.S. average is estimated.

Today, student absenteeism is a leading factor hindering the nation’s recovery from pandemic learning losses , educational experts say. Students can’t learn if they aren’t in school. And a rotating cast of absent classmates can negatively affect the achievement of even students who do show up, because teachers must slow down and adjust their approach to keep everyone on track.

“If we don’t address the absenteeism, then all is naught,” said Adam Clark, the superintendent of Mt. Diablo Unified, a socioeconomically and racially diverse district of 29,000 students in Northern California, where he said absenteeism has “exploded” to about 25 percent of students. That’s up from 12 percent before the pandemic.

covid 19 student essay

U.S. students, overall, are not caught up from their pandemic losses. Absenteeism is one key reason.

Why Students Are Missing School

Schools everywhere are scrambling to improve attendance, but the new calculus among families is complex and multifaceted.

At South Anchorage High School in Anchorage, where students are largely white and middle-to-upper income, some families now go on ski trips during the school year, or take advantage of off-peak travel deals to vacation for two weeks in Hawaii, said Sara Miller, a counselor at the school.

For a smaller number of students at the school who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, the reasons are different, and more intractable. They often have to stay home to care for younger siblings, Ms. Miller said. On days they miss the bus, their parents are busy working or do not have a car to take them to school.

And because teachers are still expected to post class work online, often nothing more than a skeleton version of an assignment, families incorrectly think students are keeping up, Ms. Miller said.

Sara Miller sits at a desk, with trophies on the shelves and a computer in front of her.

Sara Miller, a counselor at South Anchorage High School for 20 years, now sees more absences from students across the socioeconomic spectrum.

Ash Adams for The New York Times

Across the country, students are staying home when sick , not only with Covid-19, but also with more routine colds and viruses.

And more students are struggling with their mental health, one reason for increased absenteeism in Mason, Ohio, an affluent suburb of Cincinnati, said Tracey Carson, a district spokeswoman. Because many parents can work remotely, their children can also stay home.

For Ashley Cooper, 31, of San Marcos, Texas, the pandemic fractured her trust in an education system that she said left her daughter to learn online, with little support, and then expected her to perform on grade level upon her return. Her daughter, who fell behind in math, has struggled with anxiety ever since, she said.

“There have been days where she’s been absolutely in tears — ‘Can’t do it. Mom, I don’t want to go,’” said Ms. Cooper, who has worked with the nonprofit Communities in Schools to improve her children’s school attendance. But she added, “as a mom, I feel like it’s OK to have a mental health day, to say, ‘I hear you and I listen. You are important.’”

Experts say missing school is both a symptom of pandemic-related challenges, and also a cause. Students who are behind academically may not want to attend, but being absent sets them further back. Anxious students may avoid school, but hiding out can fuel their anxiety.

And schools have also seen a rise in discipline problems since the pandemic, an issue intertwined with absenteeism.

Dr. Rosanbalm, the Duke psychologist, said both absenteeism and behavioral outbursts are examples of the human stress response, now playing out en masse in schools: fight (verbal or physical aggression) or flight (absenteeism).

Quintin Shepherd stands for a portrait, dressed in a gray blazer and white shirt. Behind him are large bookcases, filled with photos, awards and books.

“If kids are not here, they are not forming relationships,” said Quintin Shepherd, the superintendent in Victoria, Texas.

Quintin Shepherd, the superintendent in Victoria, Texas, first put his focus on student behavior, which he described as a “fire in the kitchen” after schools reopened in August 2020.

The district, which serves a mostly low-income and Hispanic student body of around 13,000, found success with a one-on-one coaching program that teaches coping strategies to the most disruptive students. In some cases, students went from having 20 classroom outbursts per year to fewer than five, Dr. Shepherd said.

But chronic absenteeism is yet to be conquered. About 30 percent of students are chronically absent this year, roughly double the rate before the pandemic.

Dr. Shepherd, who originally hoped student absenteeism would improve naturally with time, has begun to think that it is, in fact, at the root of many issues.

“If kids are not here, they are not forming relationships,” he said. “If they are not forming relationships, we should expect there will be behavior and discipline issues. If they are not here, they will not be academically learning and they will struggle. If they struggle with their coursework, you can expect violent behaviors.”

Teacher absences have also increased since the pandemic, and student absences mean less certainty about which friends and classmates will be there. That can lead to more absenteeism, said Michael A. Gottfried, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. His research has found that when 10 percent of a student’s classmates are absent on a given day, that student is more likely to be absent the following day.

A large atrium like hallway, with students and teachers milling about.

Absent classmates can have a negative impact on the achievement and attendance of even the students who do show up.

Is This the New Normal?

In many ways, the challenge facing schools is one felt more broadly in American society: Have the cultural shifts from the pandemic become permanent?

In the work force, U.S. employees are still working from home at a rate that has remained largely unchanged since late 2022 . Companies have managed to “put the genie back in the bottle” to some extent by requiring a return to office a few days a week, said Nicholas Bloom, an economist at Stanford University who studies remote work. But hybrid office culture, he said, appears here to stay.

Some wonder whether it is time for schools to be more pragmatic.

Lakisha Young, the chief executive of the Oakland REACH, a parent advocacy group that works with low-income families in California, suggested a rigorous online option that students could use in emergencies, such as when a student misses the bus or has to care for a family member. “The goal should be, how do I ensure this kid is educated?” she said.

Students, looking tired, sit at their desks, back to the camera.

Relationships with adults at school and other classmates are crucial for attendance.

In the corporate world, companies have found some success appealing to a sense of social responsibility, where colleagues rely on each other to show up on the agreed-upon days.

A similar dynamic may be at play in schools, where experts say strong relationships are critical for attendance.

There is a sense of: “If I don’t show up, would people even miss the fact that I’m not there?” said Charlene M. Russell-Tucker, the commissioner of education in Connecticut.

In her state, a home visit program has yielded positive results , in part by working with families to address the specific reasons a student is missing school, but also by establishing a relationship with a caring adult. Other efforts — such as sending text messages or postcards to parents informing them of the number of accumulated absences — can also be effective.

Regina Murff, in a tan blazer, stands by the doorway of her home.

Regina Murff has worked to re-establish the daily habit of school attendance for her sons, who are 6 and 12.

Sylvia Jarrus for The New York Times

In Ypsilanti, Mich., outside of Ann Arbor, a home visit helped Regina Murff, 44, feel less alone when she was struggling to get her children to school each morning.

After working at a nursing home during the pandemic, and later losing her sister to Covid-19, she said, there were days she found it difficult to get out of bed. Ms. Murff was also more willing to keep her children home when they were sick, for fear of accidentally spreading the virus.

But after a visit from her school district, and starting therapy herself, she has settled into a new routine. She helps her sons, 6 and 12, set out their outfits at night and she wakes up at 6 a.m. to ensure they get on the bus. If they are sick, she said, she knows to call the absence into school. “I’ve done a huge turnaround in my life,” she said.

But bringing about meaningful change for large numbers of students remains slow, difficult work .

covid 19 student essay

Nationally, about 26 percent of students were considered chronically absent last school year, up from 15 percent before the pandemic.

The Ypsilanti school district has tried a bit of everything, said the superintendent, Alena Zachery-Ross. In addition to door knocks, officials are looking for ways to make school more appealing for the district’s 3,800 students, including more than 80 percent who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. They held themed dress-up days — ’70s day, pajama day — and gave away warm clothes after noticing a dip in attendance during winter months.

“We wondered, is it because you don’t have a coat, you don’t have boots?” said Dr. Zachery-Ross.

Still, absenteeism overall remains higher than it was before the pandemic. “We haven’t seen an answer,” she said.

Data provided by Nat Malkus, with the American Enterprise Institute. The data was originally published on the Return to Learn tracker and used for the report “ Long COVID for Public Schools: Chronic Absenteeism Before and After the Pandemic .”

The analysis for each year includes all districts with available data for that year, weighted by district size. Data are sourced from states, where available, and the U.S. Department of Education and NCES Common Core of Data.

For the 2018-19 school year, data was available for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. For 2022-23, it was available for 40 states and D.C., due to delays in state reporting.

Closure length status is based on the most in-person learning option available. Poverty is measured using the Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates. School size and minority population estimates are from NCES CCD.

How absenteeism is measured can vary state by state, which means comparisons across state lines may not be reliable.

An earlier version of this article misnamed a research center at Duke University. It is the Center for Child and Family Policy, not the Center of Child and Family Policy.

covid 19 student essay

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Pursuing degrees digitally: portraits of online mph students at sph ..

A person looks a Zoom screen on a laptop.

Pursuing Degrees Digitally: Portraits of Online MPH Students at SPH

A glimpse into the lives of six students in SPH’s Online MPH program as they navigate career transitions, virtual classrooms, and geographic divides to pursue higher education in public health.

Megan jones.

The more than 200 people worldwide currently studying in the Online MPH program at the School of Public Health often cite the program’s asynchronous, entirely online format and affordability among their reasons for choosing to enroll.

Online MPH students can choose to pursue their degree in a part- or full-time capacity and complete the six program modules in as little as 24 months or as many as five years. This flexibility attracts people from a variety of life stages and backgrounds, whose diversity of thought and experiences enhances the SPH community as a whole and magnifies the impact of the program’s focus on health equity for all. Each student arrived via a different path and carries with them unique aspirations for the future applications of their education. Below are a few of their stories.

Headshot of Luke Ascoli

Luke Ascoli of Pawtucket, R.I. began the Online MPH program at SPH just two weeks after completing his master’s in business administration at Bryant University. Ascoli, who has worked in product and program innovation at CVS Health since 2015, says getting his MPH seemed like a natural next step.

“I have also found that many of my industry’s most trusted voices and leaders have advanced public health degrees, which further solidified my interest in [the] program,” says Ascoli.

In his current role as director of specialty pharmacy product innovation, Ascoli leads a team that oversees several initiatives to improve patient outcomes and experiences. Many of his projects call for competencies that an education in public health would provide, he says, such as how to develop messages to communicate with patients and how to analyze the effects of clinical interventions.

While he is still early in his MPH studies, Ascoli appreciates that the program has already touched on principles of healthcare policy communication. He recently learned how messages can be crafted to complement and support vaccine administration, course material relevant to his own work at CVS Health, where he frequently navigates the complexities of clinical practice to identify opportunities to improve patient care.

In recent years, Ascoli has focused on developing a program for patients undergoing treatment for autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis. Collaborating closely with rheumatologists, he aims to streamline patients’ access healthcare benefits and enhance the quality of care they receive. He says he looks forward to leveraging his coursework to advance his career in managed care.

covid 19 student essay

Mikayla Hyman also enrolled in the Online MPH program driven by her desire to improve the delivery of healthcare. As a strategic projects specialist with the Bureau of Equitable Health Systems in New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene , Hyman works with a variety of healthcare organizations to advance policies and workflows that increase efficiency and promote equity. This might take the form of consulting with hospitals on updates to their electronic health records or connecting clinics to grant-funded smoking cessation programming, she says. She also leads practices in implementing and adhering to the patient-centered medical home model, a team-based approach to primary care. She estimates that these projects ultimately touch the lives of over 50,000 patients across the city.

“I have found that the power of one program to change lives is immense when you have stakeholder voices loud at the table, a dedicated research team, and sharp business planning,” says Hyman, who studied anthropology and global health at Middlebury College and conducted research with the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service prior to beginning her current role. “I love that public health tries to raise community member voices to create thriving neighborhoods.”

In 2023, Hyman helped to organize a $21-million vaccination program focused on expanding access in historically underserved areas. She proudly reports that the program administered 24,000 COVID-19 vaccines and 34,000 flu vaccines over the course of the flu season. She chose to pursue an MPH in hopes of making an even larger impact in the future. Eventually, Hyman says, she would like to direct an entire division within a local, state, or federal government health department, such as the Office of Women’s Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she could promote evidenced-based programs and patient-centered interventions to address social determinants of health.

“It is a gift to be immersed in a learning community that acknowledges learning happens both in the classroom and outside of it and set up to support students who are working full-time,” says Hyman.

Headshot of Lisa Galvin and her boxer Max

As an undergraduate at Boston College, Lisa Galvin aspired to become a forensic psychologist and majored in psychology. Instead, her work to date has increasingly focused on the intersection of food insecurity and health disparities. Today, Galvin lives in Seattle where she is the director of program strategy at Food Lifeline , the Western Washington affiliate of the national nonprofit Feeding America . She leads Food Lifeline’s community programs team which partners with community-based organizations and community members to design programs that address the root causes of food insecurity—”structural drivers like poverty, racism, and income inequality,” she says.

Galvin elected to pursue an education in public health to learn more about designing effective strategies for improving nutrition to achieve health equity, she says. She gained a deeper appreciation for the importance of food security to health while working abroad. In addition to her degree in psychology, Galvin also holds a master’s in international relations and worked in international development for 15 years. During that time, she worked both with survivors of gender-based violence at a women’s clinic in Nicaragua and with men to improve child health in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Lesotho. Her experiences taught her the importance of community engagement and cultural humility, lessons that have stuck with her to this day, she says, as she oversees community partnerships for Food Lifeline’s Food is Medicine partnerships which focus on providing culturally relevant nutritional interventions to yield positive health outcomes.

“I applied to one program, the BUSPH Online MPH program, because of its focus on health equity, [its] flexibility in allowing me to continue to work full-time in Seattle, [its] ranking as a top public health institution, and its accessible tuition,” says Galvin, who aims to use her degree to move into a leadership role.

Headshot of J Steinman

J Steinman works as an associate informatics analyst at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute (HPHCI), a research and teaching partnership between the nonprofit health services company Harvard Pilgrim and Harvard Medical School. J’s job is to build and analyze data systems that enable HPHCI’s epidemiologists to help the Food and Drug Administration monitor drug safety. While this facilitates the work of public health, J is excited to soon pivot to a new role where they will be more directly involved in public health research.

“I am passionate about improving health for all and making the world a better place. [I] was delighted to find a way to combine my passions into a career,” says J, who studied biology as an undergraduate at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and planned to go into medicine until they discovered public health during a parasitology course their senior year. They recall the professor asked them to propose three public health solutions to reduce the transmission of a parasite of their choice. J selected Trypanosoma cruzi , the tropical parasite that causes Chagas disease .

“It was a fascinating and disturbing time to be studying vectors of disease,” says J, who took the course in the spring of 2020 at the height of the pandemic. Through the Chagas disease project and research that J conducted afterward on HIV, TB, and COVID-19 simply out of personal interest, J realized that public health sits at the intersection of their interests in health sciences, human behavior, and social justice.

“As I learned, I drew closer and closer to public health and [became] more sure that this was the career path for me,” says J. While they live in Boston, they enrolled in BUSPH’s Online MPH program because it caters well to their needs as a student with learning disabilities.

“I can control my environment at home in a way I could not in my undergraduate degree, such as background noise, lighting, time-constraints of testing, and more,” says J. “I have been impressed by the accessibility of the program to non-traditional learners and felt welcomed with both my abilities and disabilities.”

Headshot of Kota Takayama

Kota Takayama calls Tokyo, Japan home, but since 2014, the clinical psychologist and social worker has been living in Washington, DC, where he serves as the program director and an associate professor in the Master of Social Work (MSW) Program at Gallaudet University , a prominent university for deaf and hard of hearing students.

Takayama holds a Master of Science degree in clinical psychology and disability sciences from the University of Tsukuba and a doctorate in social work research from Japan College of Social Work. He is also a Gallaudet graduate himself, having earned his MSW in the program he now directs. If Takayama’s numerous degrees speak to anything about him, it would be how dedicated he is to advancing health equity in deaf and hard of hearing communities.

During the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake—the most powerful earthquake to ever strike Japan, widely known for causing the Fukushima nuclear accident—Takayama organized psychological support for Japan’s deaf and hard of hearing communities. He published lessons from the experience in the Journal of Social Work in Disability & Rehabilitation . He has also developed culturally and linguistically appropriate health information on colorectal cancer and diabetes for these communities.

During the pandemic, there was a particular lack of accessible public health information within the deaf communities, says Takayama. Motivated to do more to address this disparity (and a big fan of the Boston Red Sox), he decided to go for yet another degree and enrolled in the Online MPH program at SPH.

“Having witnessed this health communication problem firsthand, my education in the MPH program has enabled me to understand it more thoroughly,” says Takayama. “I believe there should be more public health practitioners who are deaf or hard of hearing, and I hope to become one of them to contribute to public health in deaf and hard of hearing communities in Japan.”

Headshot of Ann Marie Weaver

Ann Weaver, a principal clinical research associate (CRA) at Thermo Fisher Scientific , is unafraid of the new and unfamiliar. Weaver, who currently lives in Dallas, Texas, recently learned how to ride a motorcycle and put her skills to the test on a multi-day trip through the mountains of Northern Vietnam. “Pure bliss,” she says of the trip. Back in 2015, she took a much longer hiatus from her research career to teach English in Spain. She lived with a few host families and worked her way across several provinces during her two years there. However, what many would likely consider Weaver’s most fascinating adventure to date, particularly sports fans, took place over the course of several weeks in 2020 when she lived and worked inside the NBA Bubble at Walt Disney World Resort’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. And yes, she met LeBron, she says.

Weaver, a CRA for IQVIA at the time, helped her colleagues, epidemiologists Dr. Christina Mack and Dr. Caroline Tai, develop the safety protocols that enabled the National Basketball League to complete its 2020 season without a single case of COVID-19 in the bubble. “Witnessing the depth of knowledge, confidence, and expertise displayed by Dr. Mack and Dr. Tai as they skillfully guided the team was enlightening,” she says. “It illuminated the remarkable impact that public health leaders can achieve.”

While her time in the bubble sparked a profound interest in epidemiology, Weaver says her primary goal in pursuing an MPH at SPH stems from her experience in Spain. She taught both children and adults, she says, but found the impact she had on the growth and enthusiasm of young minds most rewarding. She aspires to use her training in public health to one day establish strong social networks to support the mental health and wellbeing of U.S. youth.

“The Online MPH program offers top-tier education, renowned faculty, and flexibility, fostering a sense of belonging and making my aspiration within reach,” Weaver says.

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NJ schools still face high absenteeism and discipline problems thanks to pandemic

4-minute read.

covid 19 student essay

Students in New Jersey and nationwide are still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic's outsized impact on their mental well-being, according to attendance and discipline data released for the 2022-23 academic year by the state Education Department on Wednesday.

Chronic absenteeism rates and the number of violent and bullying incidents remain higher than before the pandemic, giving schools a lot of work to do in addition to addressing the accompanying problem of learning loss caused by the pandemic.

A student is considered chronically absent if they miss 10% of a 180-day school year.

"These numbers are well above where we were pre-pandemic," Jessica Merville, data expert and director of the department's Office of Performance Management, told State Board of Education members, referring to absenteeism data.

Story continues below photo gallery .

The number of suspensions and incidents of bullying and violence in New Jersey's public schools went up in academic year 2022-23. There were 44,262 cases of removals from school, compared with 36,791 in 2021-22 and 37,964 in 2018-19. Numbers were not reported for 2019-20, when schools were closed during the pandemic and students learned remotely.

Chronic absenteeism is still high

Chronic absenteeism is also up, two years after schools reopened full-time and in-person in 2021. The rate in New Jersey is 16.1 % — still higher than pre-pandemic levels, but among the lowest nationally.

The state's chronic absenteeism rate was 10.6% in 2018-19. It went up to 13.1% in 2020-21 and was the highest, at 18.1%, in 2021-22. Rates were not calculated in 2019-20.

Children may be staying home more often when they feel ill, and busing or transportation problems are factors driving the problem, but continuing anxiety and depression among youth is a major factor, Kathleen Ehling, assistant commissioner of the Education Department, told board members.

Chronic absences nationwide nearly doubled, rising from 16% before the pandemic to nearly 30% by the 2021-22 school year, reports the monitoring website AttendanceWorks. In New Jersey, 45% of 651 districts experienced high chronic absenteeism in 2022, compared with 25% in 2018.

New website to address absenteeism

The Murphy administration has started to address New Jersey's absenteeism problem, after watchdog groups and reports repeatedly called attention to these issues for two years after the COVID-19 health emergency ended.

State officials said Wednesday that the Education Department was releasing a new website dedicated to helping schools address their absenteeism problems with strategies and data that helps target individual students and root causes.

The website, called Conditions for Learning, Strategies for Success, will come with a toolkit and information encouraging districts to use remaining federal COVID relief funds to further engage students.

State Board of Education members parried with department officials, asking what the state was doing to mitigate the trend. In 2023, over 70% of schools had 10% or higher chronic absentees, compared with only 32% of schools in 2018-19, Merville said. Students experiencing homelessness and those in foster care are most affected, followed by low-income students and those with disabilities.

"Even though it's an improvement, I'd say the house is on fire," one board member said, referring to New Jersey's lower absenteeism rates compared with other states. "If students are not there, you can't teach them."

"Think of this as one data point. Think of it as the tip of the iceberg," Ehling said. "We've developed guidance that allows districts to look at their data to identify what are their root causes. We've learned that it's very different for each school, each district."

Schools with 10% or higher absenteeism must submit corrective action plans to the state, she said.

The number of students reporting anxiety and depression is "still alarmingly high" Ehling said, noting the strong connection between mental health and absenteeism in New Jersey and other states. "We are concerned as well," she said, adding that the state is diving into these numbers to address the issue and help districts.

The danger of using remaining COVID relief funds to address this issue is that once the money goes away, you no longer have it, said board member Fatimah Burnam-Watkins. Some students became severely disaffected during the pandemic, especially in communities that experienced drastic trauma.

"Some districts you have to bring the support to the school," she said. "We have to urge the districts to be very holistic and extremely diligent. The 16.1% is not just going to go away."

"We are taking this very, very seriously," said Kevin Dehmer, newly appointed acting state education commissioner. "We were recently down in D.C. talking to other states. They were saying their goal was to bring their numbers down to 30%, and we were very very happy to be at 16%. But we're not sitting on our hands."

Schools are required to use climate surveys to assess student and staff engagement and mood, which is another tool leaders can use to understand whether any of it contributed to absenteeism, Ehling said.

Schools have a charge: finding answers to the question of why students aren't showing up to school. It remains to be seen how well they succeed, and providing necessary supports is up to the state. Root causes could also be external, such as teacher absenteeism and disengagement, board members said. In some cases, they said, families don't support schools' efforts to engage their children.

The increase in "disciplinary removals" from schools reflects national trends, state officials said. The number of school-based mental health professionals is set to increase, with more funding coming from federal grants to target discipline and attendance, but some board members wondered whether that was enough.

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