Opinion

What Does Coronavirus Mean for High School Students?

Alexandra Rivasplata ’22
Business and Marketing Manager
April 25, 2020

Over the last couple of months, students at the Claremont Colleges and across the nation have been forced to adapt to a completely new educational model. With classes delayed as teachers transition to online platforms and adjust their material, it is likely that college admissions will be delayed across the country. Some states have opted to cancel or delay standardized testing, while others are considering extending the school year to rectify this situation.

The Scripps Voice (TSV) interviewed several Claremont High students to learn about the impact coronavirus has had on their educational experiences. The consensus: for many high school students, these delays in instruction, standardized testing, and life will mean drastic changes for the planning of their educational future.

“Unlike my friends and sister in college, I don’t get to Zoom into my classes; we are just being assigned work virtually,” said Sophia Rivasplata, a high school sophomore at Claremont High School (CHS). “The biggest thing to me is that online learning has been way less helpful than in-person instruction. Next year, I am supposed to be in more advanced classes such as IB [international baccalaureate] and AP [advanced placement] and I don’t know if that will still be possible or how to prepare. With financial transitions, everything is unclear in terms of my choice of college so I’m freaking out.”

Kevin Hammill, a junior at CHS, agrees.

“The coronavirus has really affected my year and future in a number of ways,” Hammill said. “Junior year is typically the year in which you prepare to apply for college, taking tests and visiting schools. All of this is now impossible leaving me and thousands of others in the same spot as me, uncertain as to what their future holds.”

For other students nearing the end of their public school journey, the Covid-19 crisis has given them a new perspective on what comes with adulthood.

“I don’t think this school closure is going to have a huge impact on my education,” Ireh Kim, a senior at CHS, said. “As a senior who has a few months left, this online learning has been ineffective in most of my classes. However, school closure has taught me more about life skills than studying skills. It taught me how to help my family financially and how to maintain a job during this pandemic. Luckily, I think these are skills I’ll still need for my future.”

From toddlers to pre-teens, there are additional challenging impacts of closure of children’s primary and middle schools. Studies show that these closures are going to lead to lower test scores, an increased likelihood of repeating a grade, and a large impact on soft skills such as social etiquette.

Many educational technology products are designed to assist and supplement school, rather than replace it, so a gap emerges when school is closed for such long periods of time. The functions of school are difficult if not impossible to replace, especially when it comes to children’s development of soft skills. Mathematics, studying for an AP exam, and learning a new language, though difficult to learn outside the classroom, can be done if the student is a self-starter, has enough resources, and is equipped with adaptive software skills. But children without these, or with environmental obstacles or learning disabilities, are often unable to recreate these experiences from home. For younger students, social management skills like learning to wait your turn, share, or speak with an indoor voice, cannot be replaced technologically.

With all of these unprecedented obstacles introduced by coronavirus, it is really impossible to know how education will be able to catch up students in all grades in the way they need. The educational impact of coronavirus on young people is substantial and will ultimately affect their future financial and social decisions. This set of challenges will require even more of teachers, students, families, communities, and public officials to ensure students are equipped for the future.

Image Credit: WLC Architects

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