The school closures are obviously the largest education story related to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). With these closures, the main issue that arises is the loss of instruction.
Students are no longer in front of teachers every day. Schools have come up with makeshift e-learning plans. Some of them may even include live instruction via webcam or conference calls, but obviously, this is not a suitable long-term replacement. But as bad as this problem is, the loss of instruction is not the only problem created by shutting schools down.
Kids all around the country are missing out on things like meals, mental health services, and even medical attention.
Students missing meals is always a concern when school is out. Summer meal programs are quite common, and school districts in underserved areas usually have to come up with plans for snow days. But now, districts are in a situation where they have to provide meals for students outside of school long term. Most areas have meals available but just like e-learning, it is not a perfect replacement. Most areas don’t have buses picking up students and transporting kids to these meals sites, and that is half the battle.
Just like with meals, students who received mental health services through school may find it more difficult to meet with their providers. Not just because of the lack of transportation to schools but the quarantine and work from home orders as well. Providers are doing their best to keep in contact and in some cases even meet when needed, but it is a poor substitute for daily contact in schools.
The nurse’s office is a major source of annoyance for teachers during the year, but many students actually do need to go, for situations as major as illnesses or as minor as hygiene products. Even just the daily assurance of taking a much need prescription every day is lost. The loss of the nurse’s office can’t be understated. It’s not something that most students need every day but when they do actually need it, they really need it.
The loss of instruction is a major loss, but people should realize that these closures are not only about lost teaching time or instruction. Students have come to depend on schools for many necessities outside of learning.