Extracurriculars in the age of COVID-19

Since returning to school, students have been adjusting to different learning styles and environments. While classes are obviously extremely important to education, one thing that students may still be missing out on are their afterschool activities.

Typically extracurriculars are a great way to encourage students to stay engaged and connect with their peers. In the age of COVID-19, a lot has had to change quickly. For many schools, that has meant cancelling activities, or at the very least changing the way these groups meet and practice.

Performing arts

For students interested in the performing arts, the way that practices and performances are held has drastically changed. Band and Choir practices are mostly held online, with students having virtual meetings with their directors to rehearse and learn technique. For those in theater or dance, most practices are being held in a socially distanced space with masks. For these performers, all shows are expected to be held outside following local ordinances and guidelines, if they can be held at all.

Sports

In schools across the country, many sports seasons have been delayed or shortened. For those still planning to have a season, a lot has changed. As Jason Marcand, the executive director of the Norther Ontario Hockey Association explains “Our goal is to get kids back on the ice”. In order to follow the guidelines of his providence, only 50 athletes will be allowed to play each other, so most teams are turning to 4-on-4 games to limit players on the ice. In addition to these smaller teams, contact will be limited, ensuring players say safe, and focus on building skills. For fall sports like Football, many schools have moved seasons into the spring in hopes that it will be safer to play then.

How can schools pivot in order to offer afterschool activities?

With so many seasons being delayed or cancelled, it is harder than ever for students to be involved. With interaction being vital to help students develop social skills and stay motivated, what can schools do to offer extracurriculars?

One solution many Higher Education institutions have started turning to is Esports. Esports is rising in popularity as a safe way for students to engage and interact without the need to be physically present. Schools across the country have already implemented programs and have started their own leagues so that students can compete and improve their skills.  For more information on how schools are starting Esports teams, check out our post about it here.

For schools not ready to start an esports team, Virtual worlds and meeting spaces are a great way to connect and collaborate. Many educators have started introducing Minecraft into their lessons as a way for students to work together and build new things.

VirBELA is also creating new ways for students and teachers to work together safely, and even host after school clubs virtually. If you are curious to see how interactive digital worlds can be used to enhance the digital learning experience, explore our campus here.

Sources:

https://www.ncsasports.org/coronavirus-sports/high-school-sports-coronavirus

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/kids-activities-covid-19-1.5700745 https://education.minecraft.net/blog/educators-across-the-globe-are-using-minecraft-education-edition-for-remote-learning

https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/08/24/will-coronavirus-silence-school-bands-and-choirs.html

https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/how-coronavirus-is-upending-high-school-extracurricular-activities

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