In order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, most governments around the world have decided to impose national lockdowns that have inevitably led to the closure of all educational institutions (from kindergarten to universities). This terrible pandemic has affected educational systems worldwide with a severe impact on learners and families in every country.
Also in Italy, we are experimenting this critical situation and students of almost all grades are “forced” to follow online lessons and remote schooling . Of course, this is happening also to my school and I feel as I’m losing a great part of my adolescence and I really miss all my friends and schoolmates.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our learning achievement; it has also intensified inequalities and disparities among social classes in all continents, especially in poor or rural areas where learning technologies (access to the internet and computers, laptops, or tablets) are not available.
However, even if distance learning tries to ensure the continuity of education, most of us are experiencing not only problems in learning acquisition, but also loss of motivation and well-being. We are obliged to stay at home, so we feel demotivated, stressed and anxious, and this may negatively affect our ability to concentrate on schoolwork and learning activities. We feel as our freedom has been denied.
In my opinion, the COVID-19 crisis has a significant impact on the mental health of adolescents and young people. Our perception of the future has been negatively affected, and we feel pessimistic about future. Physical distancing and the inability to spend time with our friends is also impacting our social development and causing psychological problems like worry, sadness and fear. Many of us are losing important ceremonies and significant events of life (for example graduations, birthday parties, athletic seasons) and it seems to improve a deep sense of isolation.
But, what can be done to face this situation? Which are the best strategies?
Firstly, I think that governments should improve availability of learning technology for all students (especially those with Disabilities and social/economic disadvantage). Then, teachers and parents should collaborate to promote our motivation and well-being. Moreover, every student should count on professional psychological support to overcome this difficult moment. Finally, the vaccine can help to reduce the spread of the virus, so that governments can re-open schools which, in my opinion, represent the only one environment for a safe and correct education.