Virtual learning can mean more snow days – Economy

The pandemic has shown that children can learn at home while schools are closed.

When Covid-19 began to spread across the world, schools around the world moved from classrooms to Zoom screens. Billions of children now have completed at least part of their training via distance learning.

There have been concerns about this. Many parents, education experts and government officials have argued that virtual education is less effective than in-person instructioni.e. pandemic students may later be disadvantaged in the labor market. It also seems to have been disproportionately difficult for children from low-income families, widening the inequality gap. Despite this, many people viewed remote learning as an imperfect compromise whose main selling point was that it removed the need for societies to make the difficult decision between stopping children’s education altogether or increase in the spread of the virus.

Some are now wondering if remote learning could be a solution to another education vs. safety dilemma: bad weather days. In the UK, which is not known for its warm weather, the usual cause of school closures before the pandemic was snow. In the United States, heat waves and hurricanes are also reasonably common reasons for school closures. Officials from both countries have now suggested that when bad weather hits, educational institutions should simply switch to remote learning for the day.

From an economic point of view, this plan has many advantages. Children can continue to learn. While working parents can still stay home with them, many may find it easier to do their own work from home if teachers take on the role of virtual babysitter and caring. Having the remote learning option in their backpack could also allow schools to announce a school closure much more quickly, preventing children, parents and teachers from wasting their time – and risking their safety – trying to shuttle back and forth. Additionally, bad weather days are likely to become a more frequent problem as climate change makes extreme weather more common.

Of course, many problems with distance learning will remain. Children from more disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to have the appropriate technology and workspace needed to focus properly. Children who benefit from free school dinners might end up skipping a meal (although this is true regardless). Still, many economists will likely consider having a virtual school backup better than the schoolless status quo. Schoolchildren and teachers, however, may not agree with them.

There can be something pleasant about an unexpected day off from school or work, especially when combined with the kind of weather that is generally considered both unusual and pleasant. Perhaps there is a question about the value we should attach to things. like extra hobbies, or the joy of building snowmen with friends or sunbathing in the garden with our siblings (hurricanes seem less fun, though perhaps anti-distance learners will say that such a frightening event is not conducive to learning, remotely or not).

Remote schooling on bad weather days would almost certainly increase the amount of education and work done. But not everyone believes it’s not because we can Does getting a little more economic productivity out of a situation mean we should always do it.

Rea our explainer on: is new technology always better

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