Covid Impact: The long-lasting effects of a pandemic
The world welcomed the new decade with much hopes and dreams. It held promises of a new beginning for all. But three months into 2020, it feels like we have transported ourself into the pages of a dystopian novel. A killer virus with no cure or vaccine in sight, stealing the lives of thousands around the globe. Humanity still has little to no devices to handle the outbreak. The only hope has come to staying indoors and praying you do not become the next prey.
The number of deaths caused by the virus is close to a quarter of a million now. Even now the numbers are not declining. In addition to this, the virus will leave behind a lasting impact on the world even after it recedes. Experts predict that the affected countries might take even as long as 15-18 months to recover from its effects. Never before in modern times has a pandemic caused the large scale destruction that this virus is leaving behind.
According to the current estimate, more than 140 countries have reported cases of Covid-19. China alone saw the loss of more than 3000 lives within just three months. China is now slowly walking on the roads of recovery. But countries such as the USA, Italy and Spain are now reporting high numbers every day. Across the globe, countries are going into complete lockdown to control the outbreak. Schools shut down, businesses bankrupt, companies laying off their workers, countries closing their borders -the picture painted by the news reports only grows bleaker as days pass.
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Impact on India
In terms of a serious impact of the virus, India joined later than most other countries. The first three cases were students who returned from Wuhan. They made a complete recovery with no cases of secondary transmission. But the second wave after the virus majorly affected countries such as Italy and Spain had huge effects in India. Within days the count of patients shot up to three digits and even today keeps increasing at a startling pace.
In the wake of this, the government quickly had to take stringent measures. The only way to stop the spread of the disease is social distancing. And therefore, the first action was to shut down the schools and universities. In addition to this, the government also began to restrict the entry of people from affected countries into India. Soon enough, this escalated to other nations as well as Covid-19 began to reported in most parts of the world.
Now here we are almost a month later, with the entire country in complete lockdown. Train services stopped, both domestic and international flights suspended and strict government strict orders for people to stay at home.
While it’s the only solution at hand, it’s something which will have long term impacts on the country’s economy. The virus has already affected all major sectors. It’s safe to say that the India emerging out of the war with Covid-19 will be drastically different. From education to aviation, health to tourism, the virus has now touched every single segment that holds our economy together. It will be no easy feat to recover from a hit so hard.
The Strain on the Health System
One of the worst-hit industry’s in the wake of the virus is obviously the healthcare industry. Italy ranks second in the world for its healthcare system. Even they have been unable to cope up with the massive number of patients brought in due to Covid-19. The death toll continues to be well above 500 every single day. The strain has broken the back of the healthcare system of the country.
India holds rank 112 in the same world rankings. If the situation becomes worse, our systems would not be able to bear the weight and would collapse. Already, many doctors and nurses in the country are working without the required necessary protective gear.
There is a lack of availability of essentials such as masks and sanitisers in the market. The panic brought on by the virus has also prompted many people to hoard the necessities. This deprives others in need of the same.
In addition to this, there are many reports of doctors and nurses evicted by their landlords. Society stigmatises and ostracises them while they are working to help those in need. They return after a 48-hour shift to perhaps finding their belongings left on the sidewalk.
Need for Government Action
The government can help solve a lot of the current crisis faced by the healthcare industry. Many state governments have already declared masks and sanitisers as necessities. Selling these items at higher costs is now a punishable offence. The government of Kerala has already begun the production of masks in their jails to meet the increasing need.
More proactive measures by the government can help a lot in dealing with the current crisis. South Korean government overcame the steep increase in the death toll through rigorous implementation of classic public-health tools. This was done by often integrating technology. This includes the rapid and widespread deployment of testing, rigorous contact tracing informed by technology, a focus on healthcare-provider safety, and real-time integrated tracking and analytics. Deploying similar methods in India could yield us with better results. It will help to reduce the current pressing pressure on the health system.
Covid-19 and Education
The education sector is also suffering massively due to Covid-19. The suspension of classes has brought in much uncertainty into the life of students as well as teachers. With the rapid pace of increase in cases, it is impossible to determine when the situation will return to normal. For students, this might mean a loss of months of education.
The outbreak even forced the government to postpone the major exams such as the class 10 and 12 Boards. The amount of stress that this must be putting on the students is certainly high. The delay in school exams will also lead to a delay in their entrance exams for higher education as well. The panic and the fear created by the virus creates an unsuitable environment for learning at home as well.
Teachers are also under immense pressure. They do not know how they will tackle the huge syllabus within just a few months once the classes start again. Currently, a lot of schools have become quarantine centres by the government. So unless the country makes a complete recovery, a return to the classrooms might not be possible.
In light of the current circumstances, both the teachers and schools are in search of a solution. Even while in complete lockdown, Chinese students continued to attend classes. Even in the absence of classrooms, the students continued to learn. How?
China is a very technologically advanced nation. In the face of the educational crisis as well, technology was their aid. The students attended classes online in the absence of regular schools. Such a method of learning has not yet gained popularity in India. But in the wake of the virus, such modes of education are beginning to get the appreciation and recognition it deserves.
How Does Online Classroom Work?
All it takes to make create an online classroom is a computer, laptop or mobile with a basic internet connection. A number of edtech companies are offering online classroom solutions to help the schools which had to suspend the classes. Learning Management Systems such as Next LMS easily allows the teacher to create a session have a live lecture through it. They can do this from the comfort of their home. Students will get a real-time notification when the teacher starts a session. They can access it from their own devices, sitting anywhere, anytime.
Such a method of learning easily ensures that there will be no breaks in learning. It also helps students have a much-needed sense of normalcy in the face of such panic and frenzy. They remain engaged while stuck indoors in quarantine. It also ensures they do not have a huge burden to shoulder once the schools reopen.
Teachers also do not have to worry about how they will finish the syllabus after so many missed class hours. The classes will happen with no disruption while ensuring safety.
Online Tests to Check the Effectiveness
Effectiveness of any learning is ensured through tests. With the help of technology, it is also possible for teachers to provide online exams. They will now test the children right in their homes. The Internet has also made it possible for students to submit their assignments and projects to the teachers online. We are stepping into a world were soon, teachers and students might not ever even have to see each other in person to learn.
New-age tools such as adaptive assessments can also help the teacher easily assess the learning levels of the student even while learning happens remotely. Here, the students are given a more difficult or easy question based on their answer to the previous question. Both the teachers and students will receive detailed reports. This will help them see where exactly the student stands and what are their learning gaps.
Next Education’s assessment management solution comes with a repository of 5 lakh+ questions for students to practice. In addition to this Next Assessment also includes adaptive assessments and detailed reports to evaluate learning. Students preparing for their boards and other competitive exams can now easily access questions for practice from their home. Such innovative solutions are the need of the hour in situations such as the ongoing lockdown. It continues to be uncertain when the exams will happen and when the regular classes can commence again.
Learn at Home Solutions
In addition to the online classes, students can also learn at home with self-learning solutions. With the help of such tools, they can easily access content including videos, experiments, ebooks etc. All they need is a mobile or laptop to learn with ease. Next Education’s Content Access @ Home is such a self-learning tool. It covers ICSE, CBSE, IGCSE as well as 29 state boards in 7 different languages.
These are trying times but with innovative technology and the cooperation of the people, we can overcome any challenge. China and South Korea are already showing us many smart practices and solutions key for survival in these unnatural circumstances. With the quick adoption of available technology in the market now, India too can emerge through the other side with minimal long-lasting damages to its various sectors. So let us switch to smarter practices today and play our role in breaking the chain.