Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on K-12 Education

Reaction to a Crisis

We all respond differently to a crisis situation. Some people rise to the occasion and are seen as heroes in the storm. Some people barely keep afloat as they struggle to maintain even the most basic of activities. Still others continue on as if nothing has really happened.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic leading to the closure of many schools across the nation, it is to be expected that students (staff and parents) will be impacted in one way or another. Students, in particular, will be impacted in three main areas of their lives:

  1. Mentally
  2. Physically
  3. Academically

Let's take a few minutes to look into each of these areas of a student's life and consider how the COVID-19 pandemic might impact the student.

Mental Impact

Humans are pack animals. We like to be in groups and we thrive on socializing. Even introverts need to have human contact from time to time to feel 'sane'. It is not for nothing that parents use 'go to your room' as punishment (social isolation is a punishment to a social creature).

There can be no doubt that social distancing, self-isolation, shelter in place rules and school closures will have a deep mental impact on students. Anxiety, depression and general angst are impacts that you may want to watch for in students of all ages.

Combat the Mental Impact

A great way to combat the mental impact of the social isolation students may feel during this time period is to maintain virtual connections as much as possible. Use virtual communication tools to conduct video calls, send emails, make audio calls or just send pictures to friends.

Teenagers should be given a bit of extra leeway to use their social media accounts for social interaction more than normal. {However, it is still advisable that parents monitor social media use for safety concerns.}

Many text messaging services offer text based games such as chess, tic tac toe and other digital two-player games that can be a fun way to keep connected and ward off mental isolation.

Additionally, allow your students to talk about how they are feeling and what they think of what is happening to them. Talking things out and knowing that they are free to discuss their feelings will help them to let those feelings out. This is an important step in self-help and mental health.

Physical Impact

A side effect of self-isolation is the reduced amount of incidental exercise students will get during the day. Many schools are large and the simple act of walking from class to class allows students to get much needed physical exercise during the day. Memberships in gyms and other social exercise groups also increase physical well-being.

With restrictions on the number of people that can gather and spaces that are open, it is likely that students will have a drastic drop in physical activity. This will have an impact not only other their physical bodies but will also loop back to impact them mentally.

Combat the Physical Impact

To combat this negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, make sure that students take frequent movement breaks. Play active games, dance to loud music, play 'Simon Says', watch and follow streamed exercise programs from YouTube.com or other sources. Do whatever it takes to maintain an active lifestyle while isolated.

Younger students may enjoy a scavenger hunt indoors. Search Study.com's thousands of lessons and activity ideas to find great active games to play with young students.

Older students may enjoy a self-led yoga lesson or learning a new form of dance. You may need to let older students pick and choose for themselves what to do; just encourage them to keep moving.

Academic Impact

Most schools have closed their doors and sent students home to learn virtually. For many students this means an all-online curriculum. All students learn differently. This means that some students will thrive with their new virtual learning environment while others will flounder.

Combat Academic Impact

Try to identify if your child is doing well with the change in learning style or not. If your child seems to be succeeding at the virtual style of learning offered through the school, then let them keep at it.

If not, don't be afraid to make some changes to how your child is learning. Study.com has many short, animated academic video lessons for all age groups. You can also find many hands-on activities, projects and ideas for students to learn in other ways in Study.com's archives of lessons.

Listen to your child and follow a learning style that best works for them. This is a great time to explore all the different styles and help your child find what works best.

Special Needs Students

Children with special needs will be impacted greatly by changes to their normal routine. For these children, it is important to keep things as normal as possible and as routine as you can.


Change can be hard, but there are ways to lessen the impact of great change caused by the COVID-19 pandemic for students of all ages. These methods can be summarized as such:

  • Mental impact: keep connections strong and allow children to express their feelings.
  • Physical impact: encourage children to move frequently by playing games or dancing to favored music.
  • Academic impact: remain open to altering your approach for students that do not thrive with a virtual learning style.

Study.com is a treasure trove of lessons and ideas to assist students with activities to maintain mental, physical and academic health in this time of change and uncertainty.

Homeschooling is hard enough as it is, but balancing the needs of children of different ages makes the challenge all the more difficult. This blog post offers suggestions for how you can succeed when homeschooling your entire family.

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