The pandemic has had a profound impact on students, parents, and educational professionals at all levels of education, from preschool to law school, across the country. Many Canadians will be familiar with the worrying statistics: attendance rates and grades are down, while drop-out rates are up.
But these statistics don’t fully encapsulate the educational crisis. In addition to doing worse in school, or skipping out on school altogether, without being able to see their friends in person, Canadian students are feeling alienated and isolated.
In-person classes provide not only an academic education but also a social education. No matter how strong your Internet connection, Zoom hangouts aren’t up to par with recess, field trips, or coffee dates on campus.
Not only that, but students who do their schooling from home are overwhelmed by endless distractions. It’s already tough enough today to avoid looking at your phone every five minutes. Without being in a classroom or having an instructor look over their shoulders, nothing is stopping students from getting sucked into the void of social media and the Internet.
The Impact of the Pandemic on Education Outcomes
Not surprisingly, the bar for student performance has been lowered. Across Canada, students are expected to do less work than they were before the pandemic. What matters most is that they make it through the semester without falling behind. If they do well, that’s a bonus.
Students applying to post-secondary institutions are at a particular disadvantage. Universities south of the border have responded by adjusting their admission policies and standards. All eight Ivy League schools have made SAT and ACT scores no longer mandatory for admission. Harvard has made all standardized tests—SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, AP/IB, TOEFL/IELTS—optional.
In Canada, where standardized tests don’t the same role in admission decisions, post-secondary schools have yet to decide how exactly they’ll change their admission policies and standards. It is safe to say, however, that in order to fairly asses students applying, these policies and standards for the 2021-22 school year will be different than they were for the 2020-21 school year.
How the End of the Pandemic Will Affect Learning
With more and more vaccinations becoming available, the educational crisis is slowly getting better, and there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
But the pandemic’s negative effects on education will last longer than the pandemic itself, and things will not return to business as usual.
Each province, territory, and region across Canada has been impacted differently, with some places, such as Vancouver, faring better than others overall.
The situation in Calgary is particularly difficult. Calgary students have faced a double-blow: in addition to the pandemic, budget cuts to the Calgary Board of Education have deprived schools even further of the resources required for students to succeed during the pandemic.
By hiring an English tutoror a math tutor in Calgary parents can provide their kids the chance to catch up at school and ensure they don’t fall behind on critical literacy and numeracy skills.
Students who have had a hard time during the pandemic will struggle to catch up when school returns to the new normal, and while it’s impossible to say, at the moment, what the full ramifications of the pandemic will be for students at the elementary and pre-elementary levels, the psychological effects alone will undoubtedly harm these students in the long run.
According to UNESCO, on average two-thirds of the past academic year have been lost to COVID-19 globally, creating lingering problems for educators and students alike. While it is still unclear how exactly education will proceed in the post-pandemic world, it is likely that many parents will continue turning to tutoring and other forms of educational support to improve learning outcomes.