The Impact of a Pandemic on K-12 Students

The Impact of a Pandemic on K-12 Students

With schools reopening this fall, comes the difficult task of addressing the severe impacts of Covid-19 on education. As we know, the complete shutdown of schools was difficult for students, teachers, and parents. Unprepared, teachers had to adapt to make the most out of online learning. The absence of in-person instruction and other factors have had detrimental effects on K-12 students. Covid-19 has also shed light on other issues within the education system. The following school year will be focused on recovering from the pandemic and rebuilding the education system. 

The U.S Department of Education has released a report which highlights the various impacts of Covid-19 on students. Based on this report, the pandemic has created new challenges and widened existing gaps. This blog will summarize and discuss some of the impacts they mentioned.

Impact on Student’s Mental Health and Well Being

The uncertainty, and isolation during the pandemic had an impact on students well -being. Being isolated from their peers, teachers, and families has not been easy. Some students experienced grief from losing a friend or a family member due to coronavirus. These struggles along with the expectations from school took a toll on students’ mental health. As a result, an increase in negative thoughts was reported. There was also a rise in suicidal ideation among children and young adults. Students must have access to mental health services needed to overcome any challenges. 

Impact on Academic Achievement

Transitioning and adapting to the new ways of learning via online classrooms has been difficult for teachers and students. There has been a decline in student engagement. Teachers had to come up with creative solutions to keep students engaged. While some students thrived in online classrooms, others struggled to learn in this environment. Overall, the quality and amount of instruction time have been affected.

According to research, math skills have declined more than reading skills. Students are falling approximately 3 months behind in math, and 1 ½ months in reading. Overall, students are making fewer academic gains in comparison to previous academic years. Some educators fear that students will not be able to recover from this learning loss. 

Widening Education Gaps

The pandemic has impacted all students in some way but not equally. Students of low SES and students of color have faced more obstacles. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has had a greater impact on minority families. Adults in Black and Latino households had a higher chance of contracting coronavirus. Many students of color faced the hard reality of losing a parent. Furthermore, some students living in disadvantaged communities were concerned about meeting basic needs like food and shelter. Some students had no internet access and were unable to attend classes. These circumstances have made it difficult for students to thrive academically.

As we know, the achievement gap is still a prevalent issue in our education system. Unfortunately, the pandemic has widened this achievement gap. Data has shown that students of color are 3 to 5 months behind in math compared to white students who are 1 to 3 months behind. As for reading, students overall are 1 and a half months behind. Unlike students of high SES, students of low SES have less access to supplemental resources, tutoring, and enriching activities. These types of resources will be crucial to helping students catch up this upcoming school year.

What’s Next?

The following school year is approaching rapidly and educators are preparing to tackle the challenges created by this pandemic. Students must be provided with the needed resources to make up for the learning loss. We are hopeful that these resources will help students get back on their feet and continue to strive for their goals.