How Has Covid-19 Influenced Education
Published on: November 18, 2020
The Covid-19 pandemic has influenced all aspects of life and education is no exception. Health and safety concerns related to the virus have seen the cancellation of many in-person classes at colleges and universities while online classes are quickly becoming the new norm. There is no doubt that even with the vaccine this pandemic is going to have a lasting effect on the world. Here are just some of the ways that Covid-19 has influenced education.
1. Stringent Safety Measures
Even colleges and universities that are still offering in-person classes have adopted far more stringent safety measures. Not only are many campuses closed to the general public, but masks and social distancing are enforced among students and employees. In addition, daily temperature checks are a reality for employees on campus. Some universities, such as Penn State, require students to participate in Covid-19 testing and submit a negative result before they will be allowed to return to their campus community. Students who test positive are then required to isolate for at least ten days before returning to their campus.
2. Decreased Enrollment Numbers
One of the consequences of the pandemic has been the loss of jobs in many sectors. For students who were planning on working part-time to fund their post-school education or those relying on their parents, this meant having to put their plans on hold. Figures released by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center indicated that postsecondary enrollments have declined 2.5 percent in the fall of 2020. This is near twice the enrollment decline that was reported in the fall of 2019. Public college enrollment also saw a decline of nearly 530,000 students (https://nscresearchcenter.org/current-term-enrollment-estimates/). For many, the pandemic meant having to put their lives and educational aspirations on hold until the future holds more certainty.
3. Financial Difficulties For Educational Institutions
The fact that there are fewer enrollments at colleges and universities has also had a knock-on effect on the finances of these institutions. Many colleges are already feeling the strain of budget cuts due to the pandemic and lower enrollment numbers mean fewer tuition dollars. This is causing a drop in revenue at a time when it can least be afforded. It could also mean that if more federal or state money is not allocated to these institutions that tuition fees could be increased to offset the shortfalls in their budget.
4. Greater Need For Mental Health Support
Education can be stressful at the best of times, but trying to study during a global pandemic has taken its toll on the mental health of students. Many students are dealing with feeling isolated while others are struggling with the loss of friends or family members due to the virus. Remote education can also be a lonely experience for students who are used to the social aspect of studying at a campus, especially if they are living on their own. This has highlighted the need for robust systems of mental health support for students.
5. Online Learning Is Becoming More Popular
It's not all doom and gloom for colleges and universities, though, especially the ones that are set up for online learning. While enrollment numbers at community colleges were down the opposite is true at for-profit colleges, especially the ones with experience in online learning. Unfortunately, some students are still opting to take a year or a semester off instead of opting for online learning, especially in communities that are not familiar or comfortable with this form of education. This indicates that more should be done to help students with no prior experience in online learning to overcome the barriers that are preventing them from taking part.