Since the first cases of the Coronavirus in the UK were reported, life for everybody has taken an unexpected twist. Those that have had the hardest times are undoubtedly the victims and their families, and those who are risking their lives on the frontline fight against the virus. Life for those regarded as vulnerable has become much harder too, many are expected not to leave the house under any circumstances.
For everybody though, day-to-day life remains strange, and for younger people this is especially true. The closure of schools and many universities, which happened towards the end of last term, brought an abrupt end to normality.
The short period of e-learning seemed to many like an experiment and has met with varying levels of success.
As the measures set out by the government were expanded, many young people have adapted, with regular challenges on social media proving popular, such as the “Run 5, Donate 5, Tag 5” challenge which has been successful in recent days. Apps like House Party have also proven important, whilst many are utilising the daily exercise opportunity successfully and safely. This aspect of the response from young people highlights a strength of social media and its ability to unite us in times of difficulty, which is proving valuable to younger people across the country as we do our bit in the national effort.
The real damage of the virus on young people, their learning and mental health, will not be clear for many months, but one group of people have been particularly affected by the virus.
They are those who were expecting to take exams at the end of the school year. Once again the impact on most people will only become clear when grades are decided. The impact on GCSE, A-level and university students could be extreme, with these education-defining results now out of their control. The reaction has been mixed, for those that achieved strong grades in Mock examinations and other assessments, the decision to cancel exams was a welcome relief, as the long period of exam stress was now cancelled. But, for many who are concerned about the impact this decision will have on their results, this was a disaster. Most will be concerned about the grades they recieve, and the impact on their future prospects.
This period will affect all young people in different ways. The headlines will always focus on those in greatest need, but the impact this virus could have on some young people is concerning. To get through this crisis, we need to look out for everyone, and young people are not an exception. As the age group least likely to suffer physically from the virus it is easy to brush the youth to the side, but some young people will suffer in other ways, often mentally. Those who may now have to experience this strange, untried grading system are most vulnerable to stress and mental health problems, but all young people can suffer, and it is important that society and communities protect young people through this potentially harmful period of their development. Together we must look out for all in society, as everyone can suffer from mental health problems through this time, and protecting young people must be at the heart of this.
With the government’s lack of clarity about the exit plans from the crisis, the near future remains uncertain. Many expect schools, and life for younger people, to return to some form of normality in the near future. But until then young people will need to continue to adapt, and in return society must ensure the wellbeing of the youth is at the heart of the community response.