Coronavirus Pandemic Forces Greeks to Switch to Online Learning



By Ada Leivada

While factories, shops, cafes, restaurants, hotels and even airline companies are trying to figure out how they will survive the financial catastrophe that the new coronavirus brings with it, businesses are finding ways to remain operational by giving their employees the chance to work from home.

Working online is something that is considered a privilege and even though there have been multinational companies that allow their employees to work from home once or twice a week, online work is still a fairly new option for most.

These days, however, in the midst of the global coronavirus outbreak, working online does not seem like an option. On the contrary, it has become somewhat of a necessity.

Huge companies like Amazon have asked their employees to opt for remote work in certain areas, such as Seattle, Washington. And Amazon is not alone. All of the Google and Facebook employees in China are working from home as a precautionary measure that not only protects their health but also makes sure the work is done!

People worry about their jobs, companies worry about their profits, and governments worry about the economy — but parents worry about their children’s health and education during this pandemic.

While more and more schools shut their doors everyday to prevent the further spreading of the virus in the community, parents and authorities alike are seeking ways to make sure the epidemic won’t affect their children’s school progress.

Online education seems to be the basic answer to this serious problem. A New York school is among those that shifted to the virtual world after their closure due to the virus; the school’s students now attend all classes via videoconference.

One would think that this would be a difficult shift and it would take a lot of getting used to — on the part of the students especially.

According to teachers, however, the shift happened very organically, and not only did students get used to it instantly, but they also loved the fact that after days of being secluded in their homes they now get to connect with their friends and teachers and have a somewhat normal school routine.

This New York school is not the only one, however. More and more secondary schools and universities are shifting to remote education to protect their students’ health. Greek parents seem to be adopting and trusting the online model of education more and more.

Despite the fact that Greece still remains in the enviable position of having one of the lowest rates of Covid-19 infection in Europe, the worry I see from Greek parents definitely lands it in the top five of countries worldwide having the most worried parents.

Costas Kotelidas, the director of Etsi Mathaino, one of the largest online tutoring centers in Greece, says that the interest in online education is more growing stronger than ever considering that the school year in Greece is nearly over.

“As parents saw that more and more schools were closing, we witnessed a growing interest in our online group classes, especially for secondary education since students are preparing for their university entry exams, Panellinies, and no one knows what will happen if the epidemic worsens. We are doing our best to accommodate everybody’s needs, especially now that all Greek schools have closed,” Kotelidas, an educator himself, explains.

Greek Lessons OnLine, an online Greek school which teaches Greek to children and adults all over the world, is experiencing a similar move toward its online classes from people of the Greek diaspora.

“More and more Greek parents are reaching out to arrange Greek classes for their children in the midst of this crisis,” points out Lisa Kaneli, the online School’s Administrative Coordinator who is based in Greece.

“Parents who live in Europe, the USA and recently Africa have all started to worry about continuing with their children’s classes in their local Greek schools, even though most of them are still open,” she adds.

“That’s why the last two weeks we have had many forms of interest from parents who would like to make sure their kids do not come in contact with large groups of people as is the case with the typical church Greek schools.

“Most of these people are just trying to find ways to keep their children at home as much as possible without compromising their educational progress or the normality of their schedules,” Kaneli explains.

Companies, parents, educators and authorities alike are all wishing for this epidemic to be contained as quickly as possible, and with the fewest negative effects.

In the meantime, it is quite reassuring to know that there is an alternative that could prevent any discontinuity in the education of Greek children everywhere by keeping them in school while they are healthy and happy in the safety of their homes.