(High School Insider)
Academy of the Canyons

Opinion: The pandemic has changed education forever — there is no going back to ‘normal’

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed every aspect of life, but when will we all be going back to “normal”?

Short answer: We aren’t going back to “normal”. A majority of schools during the pandemic were forced to switch online due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Many countries are at different stages with handling the pandemic, but the effect seems lasting. The cultural changes are irreversible. 

The government lockdowns have exposed the flaws of the world’s education systems, especially the one here in the United States. The rift between public and private education could not have been any larger than it has become during online school. 

Schools are more than just a place to go to learn. They provide a home, a place of social interaction and communication. They also provide many students with a source of nutrition and immunizations per Henrietta Fore, executive director of the United Nations Children’s Fund. Fore told CNBC that more than 460 million students across the globe don’t have internet access, computers or mobile devices to participate in virtual learning when schools closed down.

The system most private schools have compared to most public schools allow their students to be more well equipped for online learning. Here in California, at the college level, Governor Newsom proposed to cut the budget for higher education. Those cuts would total to about $1 billion for community colleges, $376 million for UC and $404 million for CSU. Private education still runs off of endowment and tuition. The UCs and CSUs, and the 115 community colleges are still facing difficult choices today. Does that sound fair? 

Not only is the system being exposed for its flaws, but many students are now also questioning the purpose of the current school system now that it is online. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is coming, and we are so unprepared for it. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is the ongoing fusion of the digital, biological, and physical worlds, as well as the growing utilization of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, robotics, 3D printing, the Internet of Things, and advanced wireless technologies, among others.

The importance of education has changed as it has shifted from traditional academic skills and rote learning, to skills such as critical thinking and adaptability. According to The World Economic Forum, this move to e-learning could be the catalyst to create a new, more effective method of educating students. It is inevitable. We have to create a system in which students can learn and develop skills in order for them to ready themselves for the interdisciplinary occupations in the future. 

Since the vaccine has begun to be distributed, and things have gotten better since the summer, let’s see what we can do to try to prepare ourselves as much as possible. One thing is clear: we must reform our system to prepare the next generation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. If we don’t, the gap between public and private education will increase, as our society slowly stops progressing.