More than 180 million primary and secondary school students across China went online or switched on TV to attend class. The spring semester, originally scheduled to start on 17 February 2020, was postponed in an effort to contain the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Xiaoyu, an 11th grader in Beijing, is one of the hundreds of millions who is learning from home using her digital device and an internet connection.
Student in Beijing resumes study in her living room
Online learning in the time of COVID-19
Xiaoyu starts the day at 8 AM. She logs in to an online platform launched by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. For those who have limited internet access, they will learn from TV. By 4 PM the girl will have attended six classes. Breaks and exercises are also part of the curriculum.
Xiaoyu reviews her Chinese language assignment on a cloud-based platform. To prevent overburdening students, the MOE stipulates that online classes help students review knowledge rather than offering new lessons.
“Compared with normal schooling, online learning is less effective to me. At school, I can approach teachers at any time if I have questions, and I can also discuss with my classmates.”
Xiaoyu takes notes during her English class. There is an online question and answer session every day. Teachers are available to address questions raised by students about their studies and to offer psychosocial counselling.
During one of her breaks, Xiaoyu practises an eye exercise to protect her vision and prevent myopia.
Xiaoyu reads the thermometer after measuring her body temperature at home. During the outbreak, schools in China ask parents to report their children’s body temperature on a daily basis to screen infection of COVID-19.
Xiaoyu presses the button in the elevator with a tissue, as she goes downstairs to exercise.
Xiaoyu stretches her body at the park in her neighborhood.
After coming home, Xiaoyu washes her hands with soap. She said her teacher shared some health guidance on how to prevent infection in her class’ group chat.
Xiaoyu helps her family cook lunch.
She eats lunch with her family.
Xiaoyu continues her class in the afternoon, while her mother also works remotely. Due to the outbreak, a lot of employers implemented flexible working modalities.
“I miss my friends. We sometimes talk about the outbreak and when school will start. Staying at home for such a long time is so boring.”
During another break, Xiaoyu plays her favorite online game. She hasn’t seen her friends for a while. They mostly talk to each other through instant messaging apps.
Xiaoyu does sit ups at home.
Xiaoyu watches TV. The Government of China is giving a press briefing on the COVID-19 outbreak. She gets information about the outbreak mainly from social media and TV. In addition to the latest development of confirmed cases, she is most concerned about when the school will formally start.
“When I first learned the news about the postponing of spring semester, I was happy about the extended holiday. But now I just want to go back to school.”