Raising the BARR – Week ending 24th February

Raising the Barr

Long Term Effects of COVID Won’t Be Realised For a Long Time

It’s hard to recall anything quite like COVID, in terms of turning our society upside down and shaking it around. It was a massive disruption and many of the impacts won’t be felt for a long time.

One of the massive impacts was on our children and their school attendance. Over long periods of time, during our COVID journey, students were asked to stay at home and do their school either online, or with the assistance of parents/caregivers with worksheets.

On the one hand, it was a remarkable effort by all that we managed to continue, in some form, the education of our kids. But in other ways, the ability to wake up each morning and head off to school, for structured lessons as per a specific timetable, was a pattern that our children fell away from.

Post COVID, many schools are reporting record high absentee rates of students. Specifically, teenage boys have been most affected.

In the coming years we are going to see what impact the separation from normal schooling has had on our children. In the shorter term we will have students getting to the end of their high-school studies and entering the workforce after 3 very disrupted years to finalise their education. Who knows, it may be magnificent.

At the other end of our education experiences, we have the very young children having lost a big chunk of the past 3 years of socialisation. In our early years, especially in the 0-7 groups, socialising our children is vitally important in their development. Many of this age group are now entering school with little exposure to other children and/or little exposure to a “school” environment, be that their pre-school, playgroup, or infants school. It is unlikely that this is going to be a good thing for the kids, but it will need to be monitored and factored in over the coming years.

For the workers, especially those that have had the opportunity to either work from home during that shorter lock-down period, or that have become long term work from homers, the long-term effects of this “experiment” are also unknown. From a business productivity perspective, it seems that there has been little loss in the work-outputs for each worker. But what is far less easy to interpret is the impacts on social outputs for each of the workers that have very different, and possibly far fewer, social interactions with work colleagues.

The entire COVID experience, initially geared toward saving lives and reducing risk of exposure, and now gradually heading in a “getting back to normal” direction, was one that no-one asked for or expected. Getting the high-risk behind us is one thing, but coming to terms with how it might have fundamentally changed many of us, is another.

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For enquiries regarding the State Government or its departments, or to put you in contact with someone who can help, please contact my office.  My office can be contacted by phoning 4991-1466, by email to cessnock@parliament.nsw.gov.au or call into 118 Vincent Street (PO Box 242), Cessnock 2325.


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