The kids aren’t alright: we must learn from the coronavirus crisis

April 28, 2020

Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

Kishen Patel assesses the facts and figures about the current pandemic and shares his thoughts and feelings

Coronavirus, most likely the Word of the Year 2020, has somehow managed to turn the globe into a state of disarray; in just a couple of months.

In March, the UK saw drastic lockdown measures put into place, and the summer examination season cancelled, for the first time since 1888.

This is a time of extreme uncertainty – there’s no telling what the future will look like. Perhaps the pandemic can provide some lessons for us to learn from, when or if life returns to normal.

Crises like these, not only expose but also amplify the injustices already prevalent in our society. Unemployment rates are at a record high in the US, and similarly, the UK is suffering job losses on an unprecedented scale. The self-employed and those in the entertainment industry have no income security.

A possible 21% of the UK’s entire workforce could become unemployed, a figure which economists at the Guardian predicts could be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Many ‘key workers’ are grossly undervalued and underpaid. They are the very people whose jobs are so vital to public health and safety, and couldn’t be more essential during this time. It’s a discredit to them that we need a global pandemic to recognise their massive value.

In fact, not so long ago, many of these ‘key workers’ were called ‘low skilled’ by the Conservative Home Secretary, Priti Patel. The list of ‘key workers’ includes healthcare workers, transport workers, supermarket staff and teachers. As the pandemic continues, we must remember the worth of these individuals, and appreciate the work they’re doing to keep the UK afloat.

Healthcare workers are still lacking Personal Protective Equipment, and testing for coronavirus is nowhere near at the expected level

There will always be a few people, for which a crisis brings out their worst qualities – one example being racism. In fact it’s got so bad that Wikipedia now has a page detailing examples of “xenophobia and racism related to the 2019-20 coronavirus pandemic” with entries from more than 35 countries.

Forbes reported that hate crimes against Asian Americans in the United States have been surging since the onset of COVID-19. Motivated, perhaps by Donald Trump, calling it the ‘Chinese virus’.

The UK government has also been widely criticised by Cable News Network for its response to the virus. Boris Johnson has allegedly missed five Cobra meetings, according to Michael Gove. In his defence, Gove stated that Prime Ministers do not always chair Cobra meetings, but it is common for them to do so in a major crisis.

Healthcare workers are still lacking Personal Protective Equipment, and testing for coronavirus is nowhere near at the expected levels. It is also interesting to note that the Conservatives closed down 17,000 hospital beds in 2019, as stated in EuroNews. Now, the UK has built five new hospitals to cope with the increasing rate of coronavirus patients.

It is easy for us to get caught up in bad news, and feel hopeless about the future. Despite this, an optimistic view is that this pandemic will be an interesting lesson for future generations to learn from.

Technology has experienced a massive boom in the education sector; many teachers and professors are now providing classes and lectures from the comfort of their own homes.

It may be time to rethink the role that educators play for Generation Z. They no longer have to simply teach material to students, but prepare them and guide their development into a more interconnected society.

Global emissions have dropped by almost 6%, compared to just over 2% during the Second World War

Younger people seem to be more and more committed to making the planet a better place, with Greta Thunberg at the helm.

The drop in emissions looks to be slowing climate change temporarily. An analysis by Carbon Brief reported that the coronavirus lockdown cut China’s CO2 emissions by 25%, and global emissions have dropped by almost 6%, compared to just over 2% during the Second World War.

Mass gatherings and events in the foreseeable future have been cancelled, which has dramatically reduced travel. Public transport, flights and factories have also been shut down. Unfortunately, it is still expected that global atmospheric CO2 levels will rise again after the pandemic, even if there are greater drops in emissions.

Nevertheless, some questions will remain unanswered. Will nations ever recover from the crashes in the stock markets? Will scientific knowledge reign over religion? Will all the rules we’ve lived by ever apply again?

Coronavirus has certainly changed the way we’re living right now. It appears a social revolution is inevitable. It is unclear whether this period of isolation could pave the way to a more sustainable future, or if this pandemic is something that can’t be recovered from.

There’s only one thing that remains certain right now, and that’s to stay home and stay safe.

A guide to staying safe for young people.

Kishen is a student at East Barnet School. While he’s not binge-watching several Netflix shows, at the same time (especially crime dramas), he can be found listening to music. He is also an avid photographer, and artist.

Kishen is an undergraduate student at the University of Bath. Aside from studying Computer Science, he can be found thrift-shopping, reading, and writing. His guilty pleasure is Netflix crime thrillers.

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