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Effects of COVID-19 on the Education Sector

The COVID-19 pandemic, which emerged in 2019, has profoundly affected the education system globally. According to a study by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the pandemic disrupted the everyday learning activities of over 1.6 billion students globally (2020). The unprecedented occurrence directly or indirectly affected teachers, students, and all other stakeholders in the education sector. The challenges faced by learners and teachers forced the adoption of new innovative ideas and alternatives to learning besides traditional methods. Some ways the pandemic affected the education sector are as follows: It led to the closure of learning institutions; as the learning institutions closed, there was a need to continue studying the curriculum. Therefore, there was a significant increase in remote learning. The increase in remote learning created a need for educators to adapt to modern technology, causing an increase in teachers’ adaptability and professional development. Finally, the sudden changes in the education structure led to an increase in anxiety and distress among students and learners.

Closure of Learning Institutions

COVID-19 affected schools, causing them to close. To prevent the fast spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across the globe were forced to close. From March 11, 2020, to February 2, 2021, more than 168 million children in 200 countries and territories spent their time at home due to school closure (Atzatzev, 2021). Different reasons caused the closure of learning institutions; some major ones are that schools are often crowded and do not have proper ventilation. Poor ventilation can cause the spread of respiratory droplets that have the COVID-19 virus. Also, most learning institutions lack the resources to help prevent COVID-19; the resources are masks, thermometers, hand sanitizers, soap, and water. A report found that 43% of schools lacked access to basic handwashing with soap and water (UNICEF, 2020). Thirdly, students need more compliance and awareness of the situation and often act contrary of how they are expected to. Different reasons cause students and staff not to comply with preventive measures, such as discomfort with the masks, misinformation, and stigma. According to a report, in the schools that reported COVID-19, only 35% of students implemented physical distancing (UNICEF, 2020). Crowding of schools, lack of resources, and lack of compliance by students to the preventive measures, all made it necessary for the closure of learning institutions.

Increase in Remote Learning

Secondly the COVID-19 increased remote learning. In the United States, during the spring of 2020, when the pandemic started to spread, 77% of public schools transitioned from physical to distance learning, and 84 percent of college students moved to online learning (National Center for Education Statistics, 2020). The sudden surge and increase in online learning was an emergency response for all learning institutions to avoid time wastage. Most learning institutions took the online platform as an alternative to normal physical lessons. Over 80% of colleagues and schools continued teaching the curriculum through the online platform (UNICEF, 2020). The switch to online learning was possible due to the increased usage of internet connectivity across the globe. However, over 147 million students missed the opportunity to continue schooling due to the luck of internet connection and digital gadgets (OCED, 2020). The increase in remote learning did not only end after the decrease of COVID-19, it continued and increased as both learners and teachers started to adopt the mode of learning that was not popular before the pandemic. COVID-19 caused an increase in online learning as learning institutions moved to this alternative to reduce physical interaction, which greatly increased the spread of the pandemic.

Increase in Teacher’s Adaptability and Professional Development

Thirdly the COVID-19 pandemic forced teachers to increase adaptability in new teaching methods to navigate the pandemic. A study by the NCES found out that 94% of teachers in the United States are reported to having started using technology in their teaching method (2020). Transitioning from the normal pedagogical approaches to the more advanced method necessitated teachers to learn new digital skills. Some important skills needed were using platforms such as Zoom and Google Classroom to host their teaching sessions. The McKinsey Global Institute reported that 87% of all educators engaged in professional development to increase their technological proficiency. Webinars and online forums became important avenues for teachers to teach students and exchange ideas with fellow teachers. The need to use digital resources caused a 62 % increase in teachers who wanted to learn professional development activities (Ferren, 2021) In order to adapt to changes brought about by covid-19 the different facilitators adopted modern technology and digital resources to facilitate their classes; this caused an increase in teacher’s adaptability and the need for professional development.

Increase in Anxiety among Learners and Educators

Lastly the pandemic greatly disrupted the normal formal causing great anxiety due to the many existing uncertainties and unknown future. According to a given study, it found out that the prevalence of moderate-severe anxiety in students increased from 18.1% before the pandemic to 25.3% four months after the pandemic began (Andreu et al., 2023). One of the reasons that caused the increase in distress among learners was the shift to online learning. The sudden shift to online learning caused learners to stay home and reduce normal social interactions. The reduction in the normal physical manner brought about loneliness and mental distress among the different students, and this heightened the level of anxiety. Also, the uncertainty surrounding the duration and severity of the pandemic created a great sense of distress among learners and teachers. Students and staff needed a clearer understanding of what would happen in the future, causing great instability.Moreover, the shift in assessment methods and evaluation procedures was another cause of distress (Andreu et al., 2023). Students were initially used to the normal sit-in cats and physical exams, but during the pandemic, it came to a stop. New testing methods, such as online tests and exams, became the new mode; COVID-19 brought about great changes in the learning structure, which caused the learners and teachers a lot of distress.


The COVID-19 pandemic brought about significant changes in the entire education sector. The normal structure of physical learning in institutions came to a halt to reduce the spread of respiratory disease. One significant change the pandemic brought to the sector is the closure of learning institutions. After the learning institutions were forced to close, there was an urgent need to continue with the curriculum; therefore, there was an increase in remote learning using digital resources to facilitate e-learning. Educators and facilitators had to familiarize themselves with modern technology; therefore, the pandemic increased the teachers’ adaptability and professional development. However, students and the staff were forced to these significant changes within a short period, which caused a heightened level of distress among learners and teachers.


Andreu, J. M. P., Salas-Sánchez, J., Cordón, J. T., Álvarez-Kurogi, L., González-García, H., & López, R. T. (2023). Social anxiety and academic performance during COVID-19 in schoolchildren. PLOS ONE18(1), e0280194.

Atzatzev. (2021, March 30). COVID-19 and School Closures: One year of education disruption.,to%20be%20able%20to%20operate

Ferren, M. (2021). Remote Learning and School Reopenings: What Worked and What Didn’t. Center for American Progress.

McKinsey Global Institute. (2023, November 30). McKinsey & Company.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2020). National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Home Page, a part of the U.S. Department of Education.

OECD. (2023). OECD Policy Responses to Coronavirus (COVID-19).

UNESCO : Building Peace through Education, Science and Culture, communication and information. (2020.).


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