How Did COVID-19 Impact Education?

How Did COVID-19 Impact Education?

COVID-19 disrupted the educational process across the globe. The pandemic provoked new challenges like school closures, the need to change instruction, and a lack of digital trust. 

Governments and educators were quick to offer students a remote learning alternative. Yet, the sector faced long-lasting consequences of the pandemic. 

The future of education started to depend on learning recovery programs and education privacy laws. Blended models of education and adaptability became a must. 

Now, we can take a closer look at the impact of COVID-19 on education. Let’s explore academic achievement statistics, learning losses, and student privacy protection offered by FERPA. 

Academic Achievements Statistics After the Pandemic

The recent years have been especially trying for students despite all the efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on education. Social isolation and the prevalence of anxiety and depression have resulted in achievement drops. Here is what statistics say.

  • McKinsey analyzed the learning outcomes of 1.6 million students across the US. Compared to pre-COVID years, they performed 9 and 10 points worse in reading and math, respectively. This sizable decrease is likely to have a long-term impact on student academic achievements. 
  • COVID-19 caused the dropout crisis. Think about it: 26.1% of college students enrolled in 2019 didn’t come back to college the next year. 
  • The pandemic effects on students were more severe in low-income schools. Since not all students had access to remote learning opportunities, learning gaps increased by 20% compared to low-poverty schools. Thus, the disruption caused by COVID-19 provoked a sharp increase in inequality in education. 

Estimating Learning Losses Caused by COVID-19

Remote learning was adopted as an alternative to traditional education. Yet, its effectiveness was rather questionable, especially in countries with low and middle income. 

This happened due to unequal access to learning resources and a lack of support at home. As a result, COVID-19 took a toll on students’ academic performance. 

The extent of learning losses is still being calculated. It varies depending on a subject, student’s age, gender, and socioeconomic status, among other factors. 

How has COVID affected education? Students missed out on learning content they could have mastered. For this reason so that to succeed in studying students had to ask for help various essay writing services, which could provide them with any type of assignment. Moreover, a lack of clear curriculum strategy and teacher support slowed down the initial transition. The necessary technology was not always available too. 

Estimates showed that students missed about ten weeks of learning in the school year of 2020-21. The World Bank calculated that it would cost students about $17 trillion in lifetime earnings.

Privacy of Student Health Records During COVID-19 

Schools have been struggling to protect student data while responding to cases of infection. If a student has COVID-19, what information is appropriate to share with the community to prevent the spread of the virus? 

Student education records, including health information, are under the protection of federal student privacy laws like FERPA. But they have exceptions when it comes to protecting the community in case of emergencies. 

A school may decide that disclosure is necessary to protect the health and safety of the student body. Yet, even in such cases, the school administration should only disclose the least required information. They don’t have to provide identifiable details to address the issue. 

If you need any help on student privacy and confidentiality, you can get guidance at the Privacy Technical Assistance Center run by the US Department of Education. It also assists in the use of student data for parents. 

What Is COPPA?

COPPA, or the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, is a federal law that protects the privacy of children under 13 online. It was enacted as a response to marketing strategies targeting minors. 

The law includes requirements for websites, apps, and other online services like an essay writing service on how to collect data and protect children’s safety. Under COPPA, if a website or other online resource collects personal information of a child under 13, it must get parental consent first. 

COPPA guidelines include: 

  • responsibilities of website owners regarding children’s privacy;
  • requirements for parental consent for collecting and using the information of young visitors;
  • transparent privacy policy;
  • data confidentiality. 

In education, the role of COPPA has become vital due to the digitalization of learning. With the rapid growth of new learning platforms and apps, education privacy laws ensure student safety online. 

Responsible use of technology in the classroom or remotely is also one of the goals of COPPA. It helps educators choose tools that are safe for kids. 

Even though the act concerns website owners, teachers should be familiar with COPPA meaning and its content. This way, they’ll make sure that the technology they use in the educational process is designed with the needs of children in mind. 

What Is FERPA|Sherpa?

FERPA|Sherpa is a center that provides education privacy resources. It is named after the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). Federal law regulates access to a child’s education records. 

The U.S. Department of Education explains that FERPA grants parents control over their child’s education records. They have the right to access, amend them, and have a say in the disclosure of any identifiable information. Find the FERPA statute at 20 U.S.C. § 1232g.

FERPA|Sherpa helps educators, parents, and students find up-to-date resources. The privacy technical assistance center provides information on a wide scope of issues:

  • federal and state laws that govern student privacy;
  • privacy rights of students and parents;
  • how to protect student privacy online;
  • how to choose appropriate and safe technology for learning; 
  • how to maintain transparent communication between schools and parents;
  • student data.

What Is the Audience of FERPA Sherpa?

Due to the rapid advancement of technology and challenges like COVID-19, the student privacy landscape is continuously evolving. The goal of FERPA|Sherpa is to provide a unified resource where all stakeholders find answers to their privacy-related questions. 

The audience of the center is diverse, and here’s why.

  • Teachers need to be well-versed in education privacy to inform instruction and ensure student safety.
  • Parents need to know how their children’s data is collected and maintained and what rights they have to their information. 
  • Students learn how their data may be used by others and what choices they can make to safeguard their privacy. 
  • Education technology vendors need Sherpa education resources to develop learning tools for students. They must observe laws and robust security standards.
  • Policymakers find out how to use data for better decision-making and efficiency of education. 
  • Lawyers use FERPA Sherpa resources to advise their clients and observe legal requirements. 
  • Local and state education agencies are responsible for developing and maintaining privacy practices. This involves creating security systems and a culture of privacy across schools. 
  • Post-secondary school officials collect student data on everything, from transcripts to employment information. After all, they need to know how to mitigate security risks. 

By the way, if you use, for example, an essay writer service your request will also be private as much as possivle: all the chats with the support are encrypted and your personal information in no case is shared with others.

How Does FERPA Protect the Privacy of Student Education Records? 

As a federal law, FERPA applies to student education records in any elementary, secondary, and post-secondary school. Both public and private institutions are subject to it. 

FERPA protects students’ personal information and health records maintained by an educational institution. A school cannot disclose this information without written consent from a parent. On the other hand, if a student is over 18 years old or attends a post-secondary institution, they can agree or disagree. 

The law allows parents and eligible students to review the student’s education records. Thus, it’s possible to request correcting inaccurate information. 

Yet, the general consent rule has exceptions when it comes to health emergencies. Suppose that the safety or health of a student or other individuals is in danger. In this case, a school can disclose FERPA-protected information if it is necessary to prevent a threat without prior consent. 

Other examples of permitted disclosures under the FERPA regulations include 

  • legitimate educational interest; 
  • audit or evaluation purposes; 
  • compliance with a judicial order, etc. 

But even if the circumstances require disclosure of personal information from a student’s education record, you should use your best judgment. In other words, provide only the least of the data required to address the issue.

The Role of FERPA Sherpa in Protecting Student Privacy During COVID-19

COVID-19 is an example of a health and safety emergency that might require the disclosure of student education records. But a school should be careful with the information that it can and cannot share with the community. 

Here’s what you should know to ensure FERPA compliance.

  • When a school shares that a student has COVID-19, it should not provide any identifying information about that person. Yet, it may notify individuals who had been in contact with the infected person.
  • FERPA does not include personal observations. So, a teacher disclosing that a student looks sick does not violate it. Still, they should consider potential harms that can follow identifying a student. 
  • It might happen that a student is suspected of having COVID-19, but a school cannot contact their parents to confirm it. In this case, the school administration may reach out to the student’s primary care physician. The physician may not disclose information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). But emergency situations are an exception. 
  • Schools may disclose non-identifying information from students’ records to local, state, or federal agencies. The purpose of using it is to address the COVID-19 outbreak. 

There are no FERPA breach notification requirements. However, a school must mention the cases of data disclosure in a student’s education record.

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