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Master the Five-Paragraph Essay
The five-paragraph essay is one of the most common composition assignments out there, whether for high school or college students. It is a classic assignment because it presents an arena in which writers can demonstrate their command of language and punctuation, as well as their logic and rhetorical skills. These skills are useful not only for classroom assignments and college application essays, but even in the business world, as employees have to write memorandums and reports, which draw on the same skills.
Mastering the five-paragraph essay is doable, and here are some tips.
Components of a Good Essay
The five-paragraph essay lives up to its name, because is has five paragraphs, as follows: an introductory paragraph that includes a thesis, three body paragraphs, each which includes support and development, and one concluding paragraph.
Its structure sometimes generates other names for the same essay, including three-tier essay, one-three-one, or a hamburger essay. Whether you are writing a cause-and-effect essay, a persuasive essay, an argumentative essay or a compare-and-contrast essay, you should use this same structure and the following specifics.
Keys to Introductory Paragraphs
Any introductory paragraph contains from three to five sentences and sets up the tone and structure for the whole essay. The first sentence should be a so-called hook sentence and grabs the reader. Examples of hook sentences include a quote, a joke, a rhetorical question or a shocking fact. This is the sentence that will keep your readers reading. Draw them in.
What Makes a Thesis Statement
The last sentence should be your thesis statement, which is the argument you are going to make in the essay. It is the sentence that contains the main point of the essay, or what you are trying to prove. It should be your strongest claim in the whole essay, telling the reader what the paper is about. You should be able to look back at it to keep your argument focused. The other sentences in this paragraph should be general information that links the first sentence and the thesis.
Content of Supporting Paragraphs
Each of the next three paragraphs follows the same general structure of the introductory paragraph. That is, they have one introduction sentence, evidence and arguments in three to five sentences, and a conclusion. Each one of them should define and defend your thesis sentence in the introduction.
The first body paragraph should be dedicated to proving your most powerful point. The second body paragraph can contain your weakest point, because the third body paragraph can, and should, support another strong argument.
Concluding Paragraph Tips
Your concluding paragraph is important, and can be difficult. Ideally, you can begin by restating your thesis. Then you can recall or restate all three to five of your supporting arguments. You should summarize each main point. If you have made similar arguments multiple times, join those together in one sentence.
Essentially, in the concluding or fifth paragraph, you should restate what your preceding paragraphs were about and draw a conclusion. It should answer the question: So what? Even if the answer seems obvious to you, write it down so that your reader can continue to easily follow your thinking process, and hopefully, agree with you.
A Note on Compare and Contrast
Let’s look a little more closely at the compare-and-contrast essay, which is a very common assignment. It can be a confusing one due to the terms used. Comparing two items is to show how they are alike. Contrasting two items is to show how they are different. One way to approach this essay is to make a grid for yourself that compares or contrasts two items before you start writing. Then, write about those characteristics. Do not try to write about both. The name of the essay is actually misleading.
Keep these pointers in mind when you need to write a five-paragraph essay, and your end result will be clear in its argument, leading your reader to the right conclusion. Often, that conclusion is to agree with you, and who doesn’t like to be right?
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What's Your Question?
10 Great Essay Writing Tips
Knowing how to write a college essay is a useful skill for anyone who plans to go to college. Most colleges and universities ask you to submit a writing sample with your application. As a student, you’ll also write essays in your courses. Impress your professors with your knowledge and skill by using these great essay writing tips.
Prepare to Answer the Question
Most college essays ask you to answer a question or synthesize information you learned in class. Review notes you have from lectures, read the recommended texts and make sure you understand the topic. You should refer to these sources in your essay.
Plan Your Essay
Many students see planning as a waste of time, but it actually saves you time. Take a few minutes to think about the topic and what you want to say about it. You can write an outline, draw a chart or use a graphic organizer to arrange your ideas. This gives you a chance to spot problems in your ideas before you spend time writing out the paragraphs.
Choose a Writing Method That Feels Comfortable
You might have to type your essay before turning it in, but that doesn’t mean you have to write it that way. Some people find it easy to write out their ideas by hand. Others prefer typing in a word processor where they can erase and rewrite as needed. Find the one that works best for you and stick with it.
View It as a Conversation
Writing is a form of communication, so think of your essay as a conversation between you and the reader. Think about your response to the source material and the topic. Decide what you want to tell the reader about the topic. Then, stay focused on your response as you write.
Provide the Context in the Introduction
If you look at an example of an essay introduction, you’ll see that the best essays give the reader a context. Think of how you introduce two people to each other. You share the details you think they will find most interesting. Do this in your essay by stating what it’s about and then telling readers what the issue is.
Explain What Needs to be Explained
Sometimes you have to explain concepts or define words to help the reader understand your viewpoint. You also have to explain the reasoning behind your ideas. For example, it’s not enough to write that your greatest achievement is running an ultra marathon. You might need to define ultra marathon and explain why finishing the race is such an accomplishment.
Answer All the Questions
After you finish writing the first draft of your essay, make sure you’ve answered all the questions you were supposed to answer. For example, essays in compare and contrast format should show the similarities and differences between ideas, objects or events. If you’re writing about a significant achievement, describe what you did and how it affected you.
Stay Focused as You Write
Writing requires concentration. Find a place where you have few distractions and give yourself time to write without interruptions. Don’t wait until the night before the essay is due to start working on it.
Read the Essay Aloud to Proofread
When you finish writing your essay, read it aloud. You can do this by yourself or ask someone to listen to you read it. You’ll notice places where the ideas don’t make sense, and your listener can give you feedback about your ideas.
Avoid Filling the Page with Words
A great essay does more than follow an essay layout. It has something to say. Sometimes students panic and write everything they know about a topic or summarize everything in the source material. Your job as a writer is to show why this information is important.
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STUDENT ESSAY The Disproportional Impact of COVID-19 on African Americans
Volume 22/2, December 2020, pp 299-307
Maritza Vasquez Reyes
We all have been affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic. However, the impact of the pandemic and its consequences are felt differently depending on our status as individuals and as members of society. While some try to adapt to working online, homeschooling their children and ordering food via Instacart, others have no choice but to be exposed to the virus while keeping society functioning. Our different social identities and the social groups we belong to determine our inclusion within society and, by extension, our vulnerability to epidemics.
COVID-19 is killing people on a large scale. As of October 10, 2020, more than 7.7 million people across every state in the United States and its four territories had tested positive for COVID-19. According to the New York Times database, at least 213,876 people with the virus have died in the United States.  However, these alarming numbers give us only half of the picture; a closer look at data by different social identities (such as class, gender, age, race, and medical history) shows that minorities have been disproportionally affected by the pandemic. These minorities in the United States are not having their right to health fulfilled.
According to the World Health Organization’s report Closing the Gap in a Generation: Health Equity through Action on the Social Determinants of Health , “poor and unequal living conditions are the consequences of deeper structural conditions that together fashion the way societies are organized—poor social policies and programs, unfair economic arrangements, and bad politics.”  This toxic combination of factors as they play out during this time of crisis, and as early news on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic pointed out, is disproportionately affecting African American communities in the United States. I recognize that the pandemic has had and is having devastating effects on other minorities as well, but space does not permit this essay to explore the impact on other minority groups.
Employing a human rights lens in this analysis helps us translate needs and social problems into rights, focusing our attention on the broader sociopolitical structural context as the cause of the social problems. Human rights highlight the inherent dignity and worth of all people, who are the primary rights-holders.  Governments (and other social actors, such as corporations) are the duty-bearers, and as such have the obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights.  Human rights cannot be separated from the societal contexts in which they are recognized, claimed, enforced, and fulfilled. Specifically, social rights, which include the right to health, can become important tools for advancing people’s citizenship and enhancing their ability to participate as active members of society.  Such an understanding of social rights calls our attention to the concept of equality, which requires that we place a greater emphasis on “solidarity” and the “collective.”  Furthermore, in order to generate equality, solidarity, and social integration, the fulfillment of social rights is not optional.  In order to fulfill social integration, social policies need to reflect a commitment to respect and protect the most vulnerable individuals and to create the conditions for the fulfillment of economic and social rights for all.
Disproportional impact of COVID-19 on African Americans
As noted by Samuel Dickman et al.:
economic inequality in the US has been increasing for decades and is now among the highest in developed countries … As economic inequality in the US has deepened, so too has inequality in health. Both overall and government health spending are higher in the US than in other countries, yet inadequate insurance coverage, high-cost sharing by patients, and geographical barriers restrict access to care for many. 
For instance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2018, 11.7% of African Americans in the United States had no health insurance, compared to 7.5% of whites. 
Prior to the Affordable Care Act—enacted into law in 2010—about 20% of African Americans were uninsured. This act helped lower the uninsured rate among nonelderly African Americans by more than one-third between 2013 and 2016, from 18.9% to 11.7%. However, even after the law’s passage, African Americans have higher uninsured rates than whites (7.5%) and Asian Americans (6.3%).  The uninsured are far more likely than the insured to forgo needed medical visits, tests, treatments, and medications because of cost.
As the COVID-19 virus made its way throughout the United States, testing kits were distributed equally among labs across the 50 states, without consideration of population density or actual needs for testing in those states. An opportunity to stop the spread of the virus during its early stages was missed, with serious consequences for many Americans. Although there is a dearth of race-disaggregated data on the number of people tested, the data that are available highlight African Americans’ overall lack of access to testing. For example, in Kansas, as of June 27, according to the COVID Racial Data Tracker, out of 94,780 tests, only 4,854 were from black Americans and 50,070 were from whites. However, blacks make up almost a third of the state’s COVID-19 deaths (59 of 208). And while in Illinois the total numbers of confirmed cases among blacks and whites were almost even, the test numbers show a different picture: 220,968 whites were tested, compared to only 78,650 blacks. 
Similarly, American Public Media reported on the COVID-19 mortality rate by race/ethnicity through July 21, 2020, including Washington, DC, and 45 states (see figure 1). These data, while showing an alarming death rate for all races, demonstrate how minorities are hit harder and how, among minority groups, the African American population in many states bears the brunt of the pandemic’s health impact.
Approximately 97.9 out of every 100,000 African Americans have died from COVID-19, a mortality rate that is a third higher than that for Latinos (64.7 per 100,000), and more than double than that for whites (46.6 per 100,000) and Asians (40.4 per 100,000). The overrepresentation of African Americans among confirmed COVID-19 cases and number of deaths underscores the fact that the coronavirus pandemic, far from being an equalizer, is amplifying or even worsening existing social inequalities tied to race, class, and access to the health care system.
Considering how African Americans and other minorities are overrepresented among those getting infected and dying from COVID-19, experts recommend that more testing be done in minority communities and that more medical services be provided.  Although the law requires insurers to cover testing for patients who go to their doctor’s office or who visit urgent care or emergency rooms, patients are fearful of ending up with a bill if their visit does not result in a COVID test. Furthermore, minority patients who lack insurance or are underinsured are less likely to be tested for COVID-19, even when experiencing alarming symptoms. These inequitable outcomes suggest the importance of increasing the number of testing centers and contact tracing in communities where African Americans and other minorities reside; providing testing beyond symptomatic individuals; ensuring that high-risk communities receive more health care workers; strengthening social provision programs to address the immediate needs of this population (such as food security, housing, and access to medicines); and providing financial protection for currently uninsured workers.
Social determinants of health and the pandemic’s impact on African Americans’ health outcomes
In international human rights law, the right to health is a claim to a set of social arrangements—norms, institutions, laws, and enabling environment—that can best secure the enjoyment of this right. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights sets out the core provision relating to the right to health under international law (article 12).  The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is the body responsible for interpreting the covenant.  In 2000, the committee adopted a general comment on the right to health recognizing that the right to health is closely related to and dependent on the realization of other human rights.  In addition, this general comment interprets the right to health as an inclusive right extending not only to timely and appropriate health care but also to the determinants of health.  I will reflect on four determinants of health—racism and discrimination, poverty, residential segregation, and underlying medical conditions—that have a significant impact on the health outcomes of African Americans.
Racism and discrimination
In spite of growing interest in understanding the association between the social determinants of health and health outcomes, for a long time many academics, policy makers, elected officials, and others were reluctant to identify racism as one of the root causes of racial health inequities.  To date, many of the studies conducted to investigate the effect of racism on health have focused mainly on interpersonal racial and ethnic discrimination, with comparatively less emphasis on investigating the health outcomes of structural racism.  The latter involves interconnected institutions whose linkages are historically rooted and culturally reinforced.  In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, acts of discrimination are taking place in a variety of contexts (for example, social, political, and historical). In some ways, the pandemic has exposed existing racism and discrimination.
Poverty (low-wage jobs, insurance coverage, homelessness, and jails and prisons)
Data drawn from the 2018 Current Population Survey to assess the characteristics of low-income families by race and ethnicity shows that of the 7.5 million low-income families with children in the United States, 20.8% were black or African American (while their percentage of the population in 2018 was only 13.4%).  Low-income racial and ethnic minorities tend to live in densely populated areas and multigenerational households. These living conditions make it difficult for low-income families to take necessary precautions for their safety and the safety of their loved ones on a regular basis.  This fact becomes even more crucial during a pandemic.
Low-wage jobs: The types of work where people in some racial and ethnic groups are overrepresented can also contribute to their risk of getting sick with COVID-19. Nearly 40% of African American workers, more than seven million, are low-wage workers and have jobs that deny them even a single paid sick day. Workers without paid sick leave might be more likely to continue to work even when they are sick.  This can increase workers’ exposure to other workers who may be infected with the COVID-19 virus.
Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control has noted that many African Americans who hold low-wage but essential jobs (such as food service, public transit, and health care) are required to continue to interact with the public, despite outbreaks in their communities, which exposes them to higher risks of COVID-19 infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly a quarter of employed Hispanic and black or African American workers are employed in service industry jobs, compared to 16% of non-Hispanic whites. Blacks or African Americans make up 12% of all employed workers but account for 30% of licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses, who face significant exposure to the coronavirus. 
In 2018, 45% of low-wage workers relied on an employer for health insurance. This situation forces low-wage workers to continue to go to work even when they are not feeling well. Some employers allow their workers to be absent only when they test positive for COVID-19. Given the way the virus spreads, by the time a person knows they are infected, they have likely already infected many others in close contact with them both at home and at work. 
Homelessness : Staying home is not an option for the homeless. African Americans, despite making up just 13% of the US population, account for about 40% of the nation’s homeless population, according to the Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress.  Given that people experiencing homelessness often live in close quarters, have compromised immune systems, and are aging, they are exceptionally vulnerable to communicable diseases—including the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Jails and prisons : Nearly 2.2 million people are in US jails and prisons, the highest rate in the world. According to the US Bureau of Justice, in 2018, the imprisonment rate among black men was 5.8 times that of white men, while the imprisonment rate among black women was 1.8 times the rate among white women.  This overrepresentation of African Americans in US jails and prisons is another indicator of the social and economic inequality affecting this population.
According to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights’ General Comment 14, “states are under the obligation to respect the right to health by, inter alia , refraining from denying or limiting equal access for all persons—including prisoners or detainees, minorities, asylum seekers and illegal immigrants—to preventive, curative, and palliative health services.”  Moreover, “states have an obligation to ensure medical care for prisoners at least equivalent to that available to the general population.”  However, there has been a very limited response to preventing transmission of the virus within detention facilities, which cannot achieve the physical distancing needed to effectively prevent the spread of COVID-19. 
Segregation affects people’s access to healthy foods and green space. It can also increase excess exposure to pollution and environmental hazards, which in turn increases the risk for diabetes and heart and kidney diseases.  African Americans living in impoverished, segregated neighborhoods may live farther away from grocery stores, hospitals, and other medical facilities.  These and other social and economic inequalities, more so than any genetic or biological predisposition, have also led to higher rates of African Americans contracting the coronavirus. To this effect, sociologist Robert Sampson states that the coronavirus is exposing class and race-based vulnerabilities. He refers to this factor as “toxic inequality,” especially the clustering of COVID-19 cases by community, and reminds us that African Americans, even if they are at the same level of income or poverty as white Americans or Latino Americans, are much more likely to live in neighborhoods that have concentrated poverty, polluted environments, lead exposure, higher rates of incarceration, and higher rates of violence. 
Many of these factors lead to long-term health consequences. The pandemic is concentrating in urban areas with high population density, which are, for the most part, neighborhoods where marginalized and minority individuals live. In times of COVID-19, these concentrations place a high burden on the residents and on already stressed hospitals in these regions. Strategies most recommended to control the spread of COVID-19—social distancing and frequent hand washing—are not always practical for those who are incarcerated or for the millions who live in highly dense communities with precarious or insecure housing, poor sanitation, and limited access to clean water.
Underlying health conditions
African Americans have historically been disproportionately diagnosed with chronic diseases such as asthma, hypertension and diabetes—underlying conditions that may make COVID-19 more lethal. Perhaps there has never been a pandemic that has brought these disparities so vividly into focus.
Doctor Anthony Fauci, an immunologist who has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984, has noted that “it is not that [African Americans] are getting infected more often. It’s that when they do get infected, their underlying medical conditions … wind them up in the ICU and ultimately give them a higher death rate.” 
One of the highest risk factors for COVID-19-related death among African Americans is hypertension. A recent study by Khansa Ahmad et al. analyzed the correlation between poverty and cardiovascular diseases, an indicator of why so many black lives are lost in the current health crisis. The authors note that the American health care system has not yet been able to address the higher propensity of lower socioeconomic classes to suffer from cardiovascular disease.  Besides having higher prevalence of chronic conditions compared to whites, African Americans experience higher death rates. These trends existed prior to COVID-19, but this pandemic has made them more visible and worrisome.
Addressing the impact of COVID-19 on African Americans: A human rights-based approach
The racially disparate death rate and socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the discriminatory enforcement of pandemic-related restrictions stand in stark contrast to the United States’ commitment to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. In 1965, the United States signed the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which it ratified in 1994. Article 2 of the convention contains fundamental obligations of state parties, which are further elaborated in articles 5, 6, and 7.  Article 2 of the convention stipulates that “each State Party shall take effective measures to review governmental, national and local policies, and to amend, rescind or nullify any laws and regulations which have the effect of creating or perpetuating racial discrimination wherever it exists” and that “each State Party shall prohibit and bring to an end, by all appropriate means, including legislation as required by circumstances, racial discrimination by any persons, group or organization.” 
Perhaps this crisis will not only greatly affect the health of our most vulnerable community members but also focus public attention on their rights and safety—or lack thereof. Disparate COVID-19 mortality rates among the African American population reflect longstanding inequalities rooted in systemic and pervasive problems in the United States (for example, racism and the inadequacy of the country’s health care system). As noted by Audrey Chapman, “the purpose of a human right is to frame public policies and private behaviors so as to protect and promote the human dignity and welfare of all members and groups within society, particularly those who are vulnerable and poor, and to effectively implement them.”  A deeper awareness of inequity and the role of social determinants demonstrates the importance of using right to health paradigms in response to the pandemic.
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has proposed some guidelines regarding states’ obligation to fulfill economic and social rights: availability, accessibility, acceptability, and quality. These four interrelated elements are essential to the right to health. They serve as a framework to evaluate states’ performance in relation to their obligation to fulfill these rights. In the context of this pandemic, it is worthwhile to raise the following questions: What can governments and nonstate actors do to avoid further marginalizing or stigmatizing this and other vulnerable populations? How can health justice and human rights-based approaches ground an effective response to the pandemic now and build a better world afterward? What can be done to ensure that responses to COVID-19 are respectful of the rights of African Americans? These questions demand targeted responses not just in treatment but also in prevention. The following are just some initial reflections:
First, we need to keep in mind that treating people with respect and human dignity is a fundamental obligation, and the first step in a health crisis. This includes the recognition of the inherent dignity of people, the right to self-determination, and equality for all individuals. A commitment to cure and prevent COVID-19 infections must be accompanied by a renewed commitment to restore justice and equity.
Second, we need to strike a balance between mitigation strategies and the protection of civil liberties, without destroying the economy and material supports of society, especially as they relate to minorities and vulnerable populations. As stated in the Siracusa Principles, “[state restrictions] are only justified when they support a legitimate aim and are: provided for by law, strictly necessary, proportionate, of limited duration, and subject to review against abusive applications.”  Therefore, decisions about individual and collective isolation and quarantine must follow standards of fair and equal treatment and avoid stigma and discrimination against individuals or groups. Vulnerable populations require direct consideration with regard to the development of policies that can also protect and secure their inalienable rights.
Third, long-term solutions require properly identifying and addressing the underlying obstacles to the fulfillment of the right to health, particularly as they affect the most vulnerable. For example, we need to design policies aimed at providing universal health coverage, paid family leave, and sick leave. We need to reduce food insecurity, provide housing, and ensure that our actions protect the climate. Moreover, we need to strengthen mental health and substance abuse services, since this pandemic is affecting people’s mental health and exacerbating ongoing issues with mental health and chemical dependency. As noted earlier, violations of the human rights principles of equality and nondiscrimination were already present in US society prior to the pandemic. However, the pandemic has caused “an unprecedented combination of adversities which presents a serious threat to the mental health of entire populations, and especially to groups in vulnerable situations.”  As Dainius Pūras has noted, “the best way to promote good mental health is to invest in protective environments in all settings.”  These actions should take place as we engage in thoughtful conversations that allow us to assess the situation, to plan and implement necessary interventions, and to evaluate their effectiveness.
Finally, it is important that we collect meaningful, systematic, and disaggregated data by race, age, gender, and class. Such data are useful not only for promoting public trust but for understanding the full impact of this pandemic and how different systems of inequality intersect, affecting the lived experiences of minority groups and beyond. It is also important that such data be made widely available, so as to enhance public awareness of the problem and inform interventions and public policies.
In 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Of all forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhuman.”  More than 54 years later, African Americans still suffer from injustices that are at the basis of income and health disparities. We know from previous experiences that epidemics place increased demands on scarce resources and enormous stress on social and economic systems.
A deeper understanding of the social determinants of health in the context of the current crisis, and of the role that these factors play in mediating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on African Americans’ health outcomes, increases our awareness of the indivisibility of all human rights and the collective dimension of the right to health. We need a more explicit equity agenda that encompasses both formal and substantive equality.  Besides nondiscrimination and equality, participation and accountability are equally crucial.
Unfortunately, as suggested by the limited available data, African American communities and other minorities in the United States are bearing the brunt of the current pandemic. The COVID-19 crisis has served to unmask higher vulnerabilities and exposure among people of color. A thorough reflection on how to close this gap needs to start immediately. Given that the COVID-19 pandemic is more than just a health crisis—it is disrupting and affecting every aspect of life (including family life, education, finances, and agricultural production)—it requires a multisectoral approach. We need to build stronger partnerships among the health care sector and other social and economic sectors. Working collaboratively to address the many interconnected issues that have emerged or become visible during this pandemic—particularly as they affect marginalized and vulnerable populations—offers a more effective strategy.
Moreover, as Delan Devakumar et al. have noted:
the strength of a healthcare system is inseparable from broader social systems that surround it. Health protection relies not only on a well-functioning health system with universal coverage, which the US could highly benefit from, but also on social inclusion, justice, and solidarity. In the absence of these factors, inequalities are magnified and scapegoating persists, with discrimination remaining long after. 
This current public health crisis demonstrates that we are all interconnected and that our well-being is contingent on that of others. A renewed and healthy society is possible only if governments and public authorities commit to reducing vulnerability and the impact of ill-health by taking steps to respect, protect, and fulfill the right to health.  It requires that government and nongovernment actors establish policies and programs that promote the right to health in practice.  It calls for a shared commitment to justice and equality for all.
Maritza Vasquez Reyes, MA, LCSW, CCM, is a PhD student and Research and Teaching Assistant at the UConn School of Social Work, University of Connecticut, Hartford, USA.
Please address correspondence to the author. Email: [email protected].
Competing interests: None declared.
Copyright © 2020 Vasquez Reyes. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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 B. Lovelace Jr., “White House officials worry the coronavirus is hitting African Americans worse than others,” CNBC News (April 7, 2020). Available at https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/07/white-house-officials-worry-the-coronavirus-is-hitting-african-americans-worse-than-others.html.
 K. Ahmad, E. W. Chen, U. Nazir, et al., “Regional variation in the association of poverty and heart failure mortality in the 3135 counties of the United States,” Journal of the American Heart Association 8/18 (2019).
 D. Desierto, “We can’t breathe: UN OHCHR experts issue joint statement and call for reparations” (EJIL Talk), Blog of the European Journal of International Law (June 5, 2020). Available at https://www.ejiltalk.org/we-cant-breathe-un-ohchr-experts-issue-joint-statement-and-call-for-reparations/.
 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, G. A. Res. 2106 (XX) (1965), art. 2.
 A. Chapman, Global health, human rights and the challenge of neoliberal policies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), p. 17.
 N. Sun, “Applying Siracusa: A call for a general comment on public health emergencies,” Health and Human Rights Journal (April 23, 2020).
 D. Pūras, “COVID-19 and mental health: Challenges ahead demand changes,” Health and Human Rights Journal (May 14, 2020).
 M. Luther King Jr, “Presentation at the Second National Convention of the Medical Committee for Human Rights,” Chicago, March 25, 1966.
 Chapman (see note 35).
 D. Devakumar, G. Shannon, S. Bhopal, and I. Abubakar, “Racism and discrimination in COVID-19 responses,” Lancet 395/10231 (2020), p. 1194.
 World Health Organization (see note 12).
Essay on Impact Of COVID-19 Pandemic On Student Life
Students are often asked to write an essay on Impact Of COVID-19 Pandemic On Student Life in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.
Let’s take a look…
100 Words Essay on Impact Of COVID-19 Pandemic On Student Life
COVID-19, a global pandemic, has drastically affected student life. Schools closed, exams postponed, and a sudden shift to online learning became the new normal.
Impact on Learning
The abrupt switch to online classes was challenging. Many students faced difficulties due to lack of digital resources and internet issues. Learning became a struggle.
The pandemic also affected students’ emotional well-being. The absence of physical interaction with friends and teachers led to feelings of isolation.
Opportunities and Adaptation
Despite challenges, students adapted. They learned new skills, embraced digital tools, and found innovative ways to learn and connect. This resilience is a silver lining of the pandemic.
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250 Words Essay on Impact Of COVID-19 Pandemic On Student Life
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended every aspect of life, with the education sector being no exception. Students worldwide have experienced a significant shift in their academic, social, and personal lives.
The sudden shift to online learning has been one of the most immediate and noticeable impacts. While it ensured continuity of education, it also exposed the digital divide, with students from disadvantaged backgrounds struggling to access online resources. Furthermore, the absence of a physical classroom environment has challenged students’ motivation and engagement, leading to a potential decline in academic performance.
The closure of educational institutions has also curtailed students’ social interactions. The lack of face-to-face contact with peers and teachers has not only affected collaborative learning but also heightened feelings of isolation and anxiety among students.
Impact on Mental Health
The pandemic has exacerbated mental health issues among students. The uncertainty about academic progress, coupled with the fear of the virus and isolation, has led to increased stress, anxiety, and depression.
In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted student life, posing challenges to academic progress, social interactions, and mental health. However, it has also provided an opportunity to reimagine education, highlighting the need for resilient systems that can withstand such crises in the future. As we navigate this new normal, it is essential to address these impacts and ensure the holistic development of students.
Packed in 152 Informative Pages
500 Words Essay on Impact Of COVID-19 Pandemic On Student Life
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on every aspect of human life, including education. Students worldwide have been significantly affected, facing challenges that extend beyond the academic sphere.
The most immediate impact of the pandemic on student life has been the disruption of traditional academic routines. With schools and universities closing their doors to prevent the virus’s spread, the education system has had to adapt quickly to remote learning. This transition has not been without its challenges. Many students have struggled with the lack of face-to-face interaction, the difficulty of self-motivation, and the technical issues related to online learning platforms.
The pandemic has also had a significant impact on students’ mental health. The sudden shift to online learning, coupled with the isolation from peers and the anxiety surrounding the virus, has led to increased rates of stress, anxiety, and depression among students. The lack of access to campus resources, including mental health services, has further exacerbated these issues, leaving many students feeling unsupported.
The social aspects of student life have also been heavily affected. Restrictions on gatherings have led to the cancellation of extracurricular activities, sporting events, and social gatherings that are integral to the student experience. This lack of social interaction has not only affected students’ mental health but also impeded their ability to build networks and develop essential soft skills.
The economic fallout from the pandemic has further complicated student life. Many students rely on part-time jobs to fund their education and living expenses, many of which have disappeared due to business closures and downsizing. Moreover, the uncertainty surrounding future employment prospects has added another layer of stress for students nearing graduation.
It’s important to note that the impact of the pandemic on student life has not been evenly distributed. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds have been particularly hard hit, often lacking the necessary resources, such as reliable internet access and quiet study spaces, to effectively engage in online learning. This has exacerbated existing educational inequalities and threatens to have long-term implications for these students’ academic and career prospects.
In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly reshaped student life, causing widespread academic disruption, mental health issues, social isolation, and economic hardship. It has also highlighted and deepened existing inequalities within the education system. As we move forward, it is crucial that these issues are addressed to ensure that all students can continue to learn and grow in this new educational landscape. The lessons learned from this experience will undoubtedly shape the future of education, making it more resilient, inclusive, and adaptable to unforeseen challenges.
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Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on student life essay
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the world, changing almost every aspect of daily life. One area that has been significantly affected is education , with students around the globe experiencing disruptions to their learning and social lives.
Will explore some of the key ways in which the pandemic has impacted student life and studies .
The Shift to Online Learning
As schools and universities closed their doors in response to the pandemic, traditional classroom-based learning was replaced with online learning.
This shift required students to quickly adapt to new learning methods and technologies, such as video conferencing, virtual classrooms, and other digital platforms.
Pros of Online Learning during the pandemic
- Flexibility: Online learning has provided students with greater flexibility in their schedules, as they can now attend classes and complete coursework at their own pace and at a time that suits them best.
- Access to Resources: Students now have the opportunity to access a wealth of resources online that may not have been readily available to them in a traditional classroom setting.
- Reduced Travel Time and Expenses: The shift to online learning has eliminated the need for students to travel to and from school, saving them both time and money.
Cons of Online Learning during the pandemic
- Reduced Social Interaction: The transition to online learning has resulted in a significant reduction in face-to-face interactions among students, which can negatively impact their social skills and emotional well-being.
- Technological Issues: Not all students have access to reliable internet connections or the necessary hardware and software required for online learning, creating a digital divide between those who can participate effectively and those who cannot.
- Difficulty in Staying Motivated and Engaged : Many students find it challenging to stay motivated and engaged in an online learning environment, where distractions are abundant, and the absence of in-person support can make it difficult to stay focused.
Mental Health Challenges For Students
The pandemic has not only disrupted students’ academic lives but has also taken a toll on their mental health.
The uncertainty surrounding the future, coupled with the isolation and stress brought on by the pandemic, has led to increased anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues among students.
Students experiencing mental health challenges should seek professional help from a counsellor, therapist, or another mental health professional. Speaking with a professional can help students better understand and manage their mental health issues.
Students should make an effort to connect with others through video calls, phone calls, and messages. Social interaction and support from family and friends can help alleviate feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
Having a predictable routine and schedule can help reduce stress and create a sense of normalcy. Students should aim to wake up, eat, and go to sleep at the same time each day, while also setting time aside for hobbies, learning, relaxation, and exercise.
Engaging in regular self-care activities is essential for both physical and mental well-being.
Some helpful self-care strategies for students include:
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
- Getting enough sleep
- Limiting exposure to stressful news
- Engaging in relaxing hobbies like yoga, meditation, reading, etc.
- Spending time outdoors while following social distancing measures
COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on Students
Personally, the pandemic has been an isolating and anxious time for many students. They have been cut off from their friends, teachers, and the activities that previously defined their daily lives.
The uncertainty and health risks surrounding the pandemic have also contributed to increased rates of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues in students.
To cope with these challenges, students have had to find new ways to connect with others, establish routines, and practice self-care. Still, the lack of in-person interaction and support continues to take its toll on students’ well-being.
Looking to the Future
While the future remains uncertain, students should try to maintain an optimistic outlook. The pandemic will not last forever, and life will eventually return to some level of normalcy. In the meantime, students can prepare for the future by focusing on their mental health, studies, and personal development.
Mental Health Management For Students
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of mental health, and students should make it a priority now and in the future.
Some steps students can take include:
- Continue accessing mental health resources and support even after the pandemic ends. Speaking with a counsellor or therapist can help students develop lifelong strategies for managing stress and maintaining well-being.
- Advocate for more mental health support at their school or university. The pandemic has exposed gaps in how institutions support students’ mental health, and students have the opportunity to push for more resources, reduced stigma, and a greater understanding of mental health issues.
- Make self-care a habit. The coping mechanisms students establish now will continue to benefit them even once the pandemic has passed. Regular exercise, healthy eating, sleep, social interaction, and leisure activities should become a permanent part of students’ daily routines.
The shift to online learning has provided students with a unique opportunity to build skills that will support their academic success now and in the future, including:
Improved time management: Without the structure of a physical classroom, students have had to take greater control over managing their time and scheduling their days.
These time management skills will continue to benefit students even once in-person classes resume.
Increased technical proficiency: Interacting with various online learning platforms and technologies has provided students with new technical skills that will be valuable beyond the pandemic. Students can build on these skills by taking online courses or engaging with online resources.
Greater self-discipline: Adapting to online learning in place of face-to-face interaction has required students to demonstrate an increased level of self-discipline to stay motivated and engaged.
Students can carry this discipline forward by setting learning goals and working to achieve them with minimal external oversight.
Although the pandemic has created challenges, it has also provided opportunities for students to develop personally. Some ways students can achieve personal growth during this time include:
- Pick up a new hobby: Students have more time to explore new hobbies and passions like crafting, coding, learning an instrument, writing, gardening, and more. Developing a hobby is a great way to relieve stress while also promoting personal development.
- Reflect on priorities: The pandemic has provided a rare opportunity for students to slow down and reevaluate what is most important in their lives. Students can gain a deeper understanding of themselves by reflecting on their priorities, values, and goals.
- Learn a new skill: With more time on their hands, students can choose to learn a new useful skill that will benefit them for years to come. Some options include learning a new language, how to cook or bake, basic home or car repair, personal finance management, and more.
- Spend time with family: For many students, the pandemic has allowed more time at home with the family that may not have otherwise been possible. Students can find meaning during this difficult period by reconnecting with their family members and strengthening those bonds.
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on student life and studies have been profound. By being aware of these impacts, students can take the necessary steps to adapt to the challenges, access resources for support, and practice self-care—all of which will help them emerge from this crisis healthier and better equipped for the future.
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Theme: Student Experiences During COVID-19
Student life, student experiences during covid-19.
COVID-19 has been hard on all of us, and getting used to a new way of living does come with its challenges. One of the important things for us at TIU, has been to keep the TIU community and spirit going, and do our best to support and enrich the lives our student body. We have asked our students to share their experiences studying at TIU during COVID-19, and this is what they had to say.
"PEACE OF MIND"
Enkhtuvshin from mongolia | business economics (2nd year).
Greetings, my name is Enkhtuvshin but everyone calls me Kyo. I am a 2nd-year Business Economics student from Mongolia. I have been given the opportunity to share how a Tokyo International Student living in Japan is dealing with this drastic change the world is facing due to Covid-19 pandemic.
We all know the effects the pandemic had on the world economy as well as how people function in society. Without a doubt, the pandemic has caused difficulties for everyone, affecting their lifestyles, work, school and how they interact with others. As for a university student living in Japan, I would like to express that the situation is not as dire as other parts of the world. The way that the Japanese government is dealing with Covid-19 is admirable, the fact that the government is not forcing harsh restrictions, rather enforcing that people go through the necessary daily interactions whilst keeping everyone safe. On top of that, the Japanese culture of respecting others' health and safety clearly shined during this pandemic. Japanese people, even before Covid-19, wear masks commonly in order to avoid any possible transmission of diseases. So when the Covid-19 hit, the Japanese population was ready and the fact that everyone is wearing a mask makes it way less worrisome.
I for one, have been at peace living in japan during this difficult time as Tokyo International University has switched to an Online teaching system which has been way more effective than I expected. Japan has kept everything calm and peaceful as the people are informed about the latest Covid-19 news but there is no panic within the country. If I were to be somewhere else in the world, I would have to live in quarantine with countless restrictions which would probably affect my mental state. The support for students from both the university and the Japanese government has been exceptional. If a pandemic similar to Covid-19 ever happens again, I am confident that TIU and Japan will be able to keep everyone safe.
""THE LIFE AND ENVIRONMENT IN JAPAN IS IRREPLACEABLE"
Shreya data from india | digital business & innovation (1st year).
Hello, everyone! I am Shreya Data, a freshman pursuing BSc. Digital Business and Innovation at TIU. After completing my first semester in Japan, I returned to my home country; India in February. It was a great feeling to be at home after 5 months as I enjoyed my time in Delhi with my family and friends. I was just preparing for my return to Japan in March, when it was announced that the Spring term will be held online. This news came as a relief because the COVID-situation in India was better than Japan, and I wished to stay with my family during the pandemic.
However, after staying in India for more than 5 months now, I really miss Japan and my life there. Although I get to connect with my friends through social media, but the life and environment in Japan is irreplaceable. Surely, online learning experience can never be an alternative to the traditional offline way. But unfortunately, the travel restrictions in Japan and India do not allow me to return to Japan any time soon, but I really hope that I do!
"A SILVER LINING"
Vaamika from india | international relations (2nd year).
Many people's lives have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and despite this, the online classes for spring semester at Tokyo International University were actually a silver lining during this difficult time. Personally, with the lockdown and the occupational problems facing the people in my country, online classes helped me to study efficiently and further help my family during the crisis by making them not worry about missing classes or my safety being endangered while having to travel. The online classes were also a great experience, because the teachers were fully prepared with great presentation slides, quizzes, and worksheets, and also helped students to socialize by creating breakout rooms for group work on Zoom.
Further, the Japanese government provided 100,000 yen to all its citizens and the international students to help us in this pandemic situation. Along with this, JASSO also provided support cash money of 100,000 yen to selected students and it has helped various students overcome their financial problems. Last thing that I would especially like to mention is the provision of storage room provided by TIU to help students stuck in their home country to move out of the dormitory and therefore, store their luggage in a room till the time they return due to the inability of students to find an apartment at Japan from their home country.
Hence, overall, I feel that TIU has really helped it's International students throughout this pandemic situation and is still helping. Hoping that this COVID-19 situation can be curbed as soon as possible!!
"TIU WAS EQUIPPED WITH ALL NECESSARY FACTORS"
Enaakshi adhkari from sri lanka | international relations (3rd year).
As I was aware of the fact that I was able to take courses at TIU although I was on exchange, I was eager to make the most out of time that was given to us by the lockdown. Thus, I started taking a few courses at TIU as well. The Academic Affairs Office and my Professor's helped me in every way as I was taking courses at TIU, while completing my courses online under my exchange university. When taking courses at TIU I realised the high standard of the features and facilities given to the students at TIU. The Professor's were well equipped to teach online and the interactive sessions, presentations, discussion and debates via zoom was done in a professional manner to an extent that I felt that we were not missing out on anything, as it was similar to as in class lecture. In addition, the efficiency of the E-track Academic Affairs office with regards to answering our emails and clarifying our doubts is commendable.
The fact that TIU had its other facilities such as the English Plaza, Japanese Plaza, Peer Assistants, Counselling Services and Career Support Centre working online allowed the students to interact with other students while developing our skills and getting necessary services from TIU. Thus, I would say that TIU was equipped with all necessary factors in order to face the global pandemic in an efficient manner. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff at TIU for providing us with these services. Hope to see everyone on campus soon!
"WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER!"
Nguyen thanh thao from vietnam | inernational relations (3rd year).
Gradually, I started transitioning to working and teaching remotely for my part-time job as a teacher when the state of emergency was announced. After experiencing remote-working for several weeks, I found that I did not struggle much with TIU's online classes. However, I cannot say that I do not miss the social aspect of TIU. What I find really special about TIU is that the professors are really focused on student-centered learning. In my Japanese classes, we use a TIU-style teaching method where all the students and the teacher sit at a round table together, and instead of learning everything entirely through slides and lecturing, we learn from each other. Peer-to-peer interaction is a really pivotal part of education at TIU, and it feels like it falls short in our distance learning. We use Zoom and can see one another and our teacher, but everyone is always muted so as not to interfere with background noise.
However, I actually grew fond of the e-learning experience. The professors still tried their best to lead thought-provoking discussions on Zoom. I can confidently raise my opinion without worrying about peer pressure. I feel as though I can learn the material at my own pace and on my own time, with breaks when I need them. Before, a normal school day involved me waking up one or two hours early to prepare for school and returning home late until nearly closed time. Now, I wake up at whatever time I would like, which has had a positive effect on me, reducing my levels of stress overall. I can spend more time on my personal interests like designing and video editing besides doing schoolwork all the time. With the stressful environment of school being significantly reduced, in my mind the pros of E-Learning outweigh the cons.
Quarantine and a long period of isolation, especially for international students like me who cannot go back to their countries can be daunting, even exhausting. We're suddenly in a situation where we have all the time in the world but are not sure how to utilize our time properly. As for me, I was determined to be more productive with every aspect of my life during this important period of time: 1. Updated my resume - I tried to be a little proactive by utilizing this free time to update my resume, my LinkedIn profile, and even creating my first ever photography portfolio. 2. Getting back to exercising - Staying fit and eating well have always been my top priority. Throughout this time of uncertainty, I realize the one thing I can take control of is my health and wellbeing. Knowing that the internet is filled with hundreds of home workout videos that require little to no gym equipment, I finally could chalk out a workout plan for myself and stick to it. 3. Joining online events - There have been thousands of free virtual experiences, events, workshops, webinars in which people can partake to make them feel like they're experiencing outdoor life. In the past few months, I have been following up on virtual tours of famous museums I have never been to before, watching my favorite band's virtual concert and enrolling in several free online courses available from top universities, including Princeton, Harvard, and Yale. The possibility of entertainment is endless, and I can still experience it in the comfort of my own home.
I have faith that the pandemic situation will turn out brighter and students can go back to TIU in the future. Considering that the university takes precautionary and preventative measures seriously to ensure the safety of its employees and students, considering that the Japanese government, along with TIU, is providing adequate health and financial support to all international students and its citizens, considering that we students can reach out to the university for any assistance, any updates and information at any time. It is important that students individually play their parts in following these guidances from the university and the government. We must see the pandemic as an opportunity to reflect on the ways in which we are all interconnected, how supporting each other can bring about great changes and how we can ensure society works better for all us in the aftermath of the crisis.
This pandemic is about asking what do we all want for the future, and what lessons can we take with us for future crises to better care for each other and to think about solidarity. We are all in this together!
"NEW NORMAL IN JAPAN"
Girvan bhagaskara from indonesia | business economics (2nd year).
However, the pandemic drastically decreases our social activity as it is harder to meet other people amid the spreading virus in Japan. Ever since I got back to Japan from Indonesia, I haven't gone out of the town for a few months. This pandemic situation changes a lot of my lifestyle such as refraining myself from going out and start to cook my meals every day. On the positive side, since I mostly stay at home and cook my meals, I manage to decrease my monthly expense. Moreover, the japan government has helped all of its peoples including foreign students with a 100.000 yen cash handout. And TIU also support the students that currently in japan or in their country to receive this cash handout soon. This is a relief for us who temporality lost part-time income because the store is closed due to Japan's emergency state.
For me, the biggest enemy of this new lifestyle is boredom. Yes, if we spend most of our time in the room every day doing the same things again and again, we could hit the limit where we become exhausted from all of the class and assignment. So, to deal with this problem, I think it's important to have your mean of entertainment for yourself. For example, looking for a new hobby, or learning new interesting matters that you like, playing games, talk to your friends through online means, or many more. Luckily, I found my new hobby which is cooking! Since I began to cook all of my meals by myself since the pandemic hits. Sometimes I also like to combine this cooking hobby with my photography hobby and take pictures of my food.
I hope this pandemic will be over soon and everything could be normal again. For now, the best thing that we could do is to stay at home and stay healthy. Stay safe guys!
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Student Wins Scholarship with Essay on COVID-19 and Climate Change
February 25, 2021
Scott, who is also the grant coordinator for UNC's Student LEAF organization , wrote an essay titled, "Crisis! The Relationship between COVID-19 and Climate Change," that looks at how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has impacted climate-change efforts.
“The main message of my essay was that no matter how much we want things to return 'back to normal' from the tragic events that occurred during 2020 (Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, global fires and floods displacing millions), we can see that our 'normal' wasn’t working; instead of going backwards, we now have our chance to create a new normal," Scott said. "It’s been a great experience and an even greater feeling to see my work published for others to read.”
Read her winning essay below:
Crisis! The Relationship between COVID-19 and Climate Change
By Emmy Scott
“I wish things were back to normal again”, a phrase that’s become quite popular in the last year. With rising cases in roughly 215 countries, stay-at-home orders put in place to control the spread of COVID-19 have been testing people’s physical and mental health. Isolation and drastic change has left people longing to return to their normal lives before the virus spread –but what exactly was our normal? Over the past 50 years, the “normal” has been a trend toward a 2% increase in global temperate (National Climate Assessment 2014). This increase will result in climate change which will bring a rise in sea level causing extreme hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters that will destroy homes and businesses. The temperature rise will also create droughts making water-scarce and cultivating difficult.
Then, the abuse of natural resources from human activity will result in resource scarcities worldwide (NASA, 2020). Over 1,300 independent scientific studies concluded that there is more than a 95% probability that human activity has contributed to climate change (National Climate Assessment 2014).
At the start of the global pandemic, there seemed to be positive impacts on the environment. With less to no people outside, china’s air pollution improved, rivers in Italy cleared up, and there was a reduction in carbon emissions around the world (Kumari & Toshniwal, 2020). There was a decline in greenhouse gas emission, outdoor air pollution, environmental noise level, and land and wildlife pressure (Patrício Silva et al., 2021). Showing us that our normal lives are the main contributors to the crisis of climate change. Still, while outside air pollution was going down, other pollutants began causing harm to the environment (Patrício Silva et al., 2021).
One of the main pollutants caused by COVID-19 is the extreme increase in personal protection equipment (masks, gloves, face shields, etc.). The increase in large is due to the products being used by first responders and everyday people with no slowing in sight. For example, to provide citizens worldwide with the necessary amount of personal protection equipment (PPE) we would need roughly 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves monthly (Patrício Silva et al., 2021). Most PPE is also made up of nonwoven synthetic polymers such as polyethylene, polypropylene (PP), and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) –all of which contain plastic (Patrício Silva et al., 2021). Such plastics can take hundreds to thousands of years to decompose, in the meantime, the plastics break up into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics (National Climate Assessment 2014).
PPE disposed of today is already creating a “never-ending-story” of plastics in our land and water. The nonwoven synthetic fibers were the main derivation of micro-plastic found in both water and sediment samples in the Magdalena River in Columbia (Patrício Silva et al., 2021). A UCL Plastic Waste Innovation report regarding mask use found that the use of reusable masks that could be washed had the lowest contribution to climate change, and reduced mask waste by 95% (Patrício Silva et al., 2021). Unfortunately, surgical masks and gloves are recommended not to be worn longer than a few hours and should be adequately disposed of to avoid cross-contamination; therefore, reusable masks aren’t an option for first responders.
The recommendation is necessary for the medical industry, but the increased use of PPE soon became accompanied by an increase in other single-used-plastics that degrade into microplastics. Reusable products such as metal straws, canvas bags, and bamboo silverware can be used in public spaces to replace single-use products offered. Yet with COVID-19, the fear of contamination has led to more institutions: restaurants, markets, schools, offices, etc.: refusing to use reusable materials that could potentially spread COVID-19. Also, several U.S. states have stopped recycling programs with concerns of the virus spreading if recycling is not sanitized and handled properly (Patrício Silva et al., 2021). Long-term, a pause in recycling could potentially harm the global momentum towards better recycling programs even after the pandemic has been controlled.
For consumers, safety concerns related to shopping in public have led to a preference for fresh-food being packaged in plastic containers to avoid food contamination (Dcnewton, 2020). The demand for plastic packaging is expected to increase by 40% with a 17% increase in other single-use plastic, including medical products. Still, it hasn’t been proven that reusable products accompany any more risk of spreading the virus than shoes or disposable gloves (Patrício Silva et al., 2021). Other than an increase in irreversible plastic waste in the environment, the longterm effects of reusable products being seen as “unsafe” to use during COVID-19, is the notation that nonsingular-use products are dirty. The COVID-19 pandemic could change what people think about using reusable products in public spaces forever.
Conclusively, to dispose of PPE and other possible containments, countries have been supporting incineration and landfilling which creates air, land, and water pollution. While some regions will be able to dispose of medical waste with alternative methods, minimizing some of the environmental risks, others with less waste management resources may be forced to utilize inappropriate strategies resulting in adverse effects on the environment (Patrício Silva et al., 2021). Incineration, for example, releases greenhouse gasses (GHGs) and other potentially hazardous compounds (heavy metals, dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyl [various chlorinated mixtures], and furans [contains carbon]) into the air (Patrício Silva et al., 2021). COVID-19 has taken the lives of over 1 million people; air pollutants caused by human activity are responsible for over 6 million deaths worldwide and counting (Patrício Silva et al., 2021 and WHO, 2020). By ignoring the risks and externalities of increasing plastic use and disposing of it in unsustainable ways, we have also increased the risks of pollutants in our air, water, and land.
Overall, the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the world’s focus away from the climate change crisis. Public safety pressures have resulted in less and less attention from governmental agencies, the scientific community, and the general public. The distress of COVID-19 spreading has put new and ongoing climate change mitigation strategies on pause for both businesses, public institutions, governments, and individuals. New York, for example, pushed back their statewide ban on single-use plastic to January 2021. While other states such as Massachusetts went as far as banning the use of reusable shopping bags to minimize the risk of contamination to workers and customers (Patrício Silva et al., 2021).
Furthermore, it’s hindered the progress of companies switching to more eco-friendly business practices. Businesses are not just increasing their use of single-use products for safety, with the uncertainty of COVID-19 affects they are also becoming unwilling to spend more on sustainable practices (WHO, 2020). Face-to-face restriction, concerns of safety in public settings, and an increase in job-loss have led to less shopping worldwide. With fewer people out traveling, shopping, going to work, school, or visiting friends, the economy has seen high rates of job loss, furloughs, and businesses having to close their doors.
Worldwide, the International Monetary Fund predicts COVID-19 will reduce growth rates by 4% leading to a global recession (Kumari & Toshniwal, 2020). The global increase in job loss and stay-at-home regulations have left businesses, organizations, and institutions in terrifying positions. COVID-19 has forced the closure of 60% of business across the U.S. Leaving business owners, as well as employees, with a significant financial burden (Sundaram, 2020). Nonprofit organizations have seen an 83% reduction in revenue and over 50% have closed their doors as well (Independent Sector, 2020). The decline of nonprofits is worth mentioning because most of the organizations identified as human service organizations, allies, and supporters in the fight for environmental and human rights (Independent Sector, 2020). Also, stay-at-home orders have impacted schools which are obstructing lower and higher education learning.
The stay-at-home orders are in place to guard us, but having to enforce them has reinforced inequality and inequity for historically underrepresented populations (Dcnewton, 2020). Communities of color and low-income groups have been disproportionately impacted by the economic effects of COVID-19 (Dcnewton, 2020). Renters -many of them being people of color, low-income, or have job insecurity in the face of an epidemic- with less economic resources and less recovery support, are especially susceptible to risks such as displacement during any crisis (Ramirez, 2020). If we combine that with the fact that there are more renters in the U.S. than homeowner’s a risk of extreme displacement emerges (Ramirez, 2020). In just the United States, COVID-19 threatens 30-40 million renters with the risk of eviction (Benfer, Gilman, Edmonds, Butler, & Robinson, 2020). The displacement being caused by the virus is only a preview of what could happen if the climate crisis continues. The natural disasters, droughts, and resource scarcity brought on by climate change will result in millions of people having to move from their homes to survive the effects of climate change (NASA, 2020).
As climate change worsens, it’s predicted that the extreme natural disasters (floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, etc.) will destroy more businesses, homes, and schools, or displace people due to resource scarcity (NASA, 2020). Also, similar to trying to protect public health during the COVID-19 crisis, stay-at-home orders could be put back in place if the climate crisis is not solved, but this time it would be to protect us from the pollution in the air created by us –such as the greenhouse gases we’ve produced. While COVID-19 is rightfully a pressing matter, without mitigating our global impact on the environment and mending the damage already created, we could see a similar or even worse drop in the economy than what COVID-19 has created (Kumari & Toshniwal, 2020).
Although it is not all bad, with the similarities between COVID-19 and the climate crisis, we can turn the tragedy of COVID-19 into a blueprint for preparing for climate change. For one, the crisis has taught us that we cannot sit back and wait for change; we have to create it. In the COVID-19 crisis, we saw this in the way people reinvented working, learning, and living from the same distance. Similarly, for the climate crisis actions towards mitigation, we will need to change how we work, learn, and live. To reverse the damage created over the past 50 years, we will have to be innovative and adapt to change –just as we have been during the COVID-19 crisis.
Navigating through the COVID-19 has also shown us that in times of crisis it is not just about moving quickly, being unified is critical. The climate crisis is an urgent matter, but without unity, effective solutions will be difficult to reach. In the U.S. the politicization of wearing a mask showed how the division between people can shift focus away from what is important, our health. When we are united, we can create unimaginable change: such as converting the world almost completely online or discovering multiple effective vacations to a devastating virus within less than a year. To solve a crisis as major as climate change, we will need to be unified in how we’ve been at times during COVID-19. Strategies that consider intersectionality (the links between disasters, health, equity, racial disparities, and community investment) and put human and environmental rights at the forefront can create long-term solutions (Ramirez, 2020). Solutions that create more resilient and equitable places to live, resulting in a future that solves the crisis of climate change.
The current pandemic has also shown us strategies that could be used to protect individuals impacted by the effects of climate change. Stimulation packages and pandemic unemployment for furloughed employees have helped elevate the economic impacts of the virus –a plan of action that would be necessary to alleviate the economic effects of an increase in natural disasters. Similar to COVID-19, it will important for governments to create plans to protect businesses from climate change impacts. Forgivable loans, payroll tax relief, help with employee healthcare costs, and program grants are strategies being used that could help if climate change worsens -92% of a diverse group of business owners suggested forgivable loans are the most helpful to keep their companies afloat (Independent Sector, 2020).
As mentioned, with a combination of economic stress and a high percentage of the world not owning property, global displacement will arise. Policies and regulations that protect renters from eviction have been implemented during the beginning of COVID-19, showing us that an important step to the global crisis is displacement policies and the protection of low-income communities. Anti-displacement plans should be put together by multiple diverse agencies. Antidisplacement is important to keep the economy flowing, ensure public health and safety, and minimize financial burdened for businesses (Ramirez, 2020). Anti-displacement plans would include countries’ promoting healthy development growth, restricting divestment in underrepresented communities to provide security for renters, low-income, or those who may lose their jobs due to climate change effects, and support of refugee programs. As we’ve learned from COVID-19, a displacement plan will be necessary.
COVID-19 has devastated the economy, environment, and people’s lives. What began as a health crisis quickly progressed into an economic, social, and environmental threat. COVID-19 brought an increase in pollution, adverse effects on our air, water, and resources, as well as financial burdens, and an increase in displacement. Aid for the pandemic has cost the United States trillions of dollars. With the predictions of climate change being similar to the effects brought by COVID-19: an increase in pollution, adverse effects on our air, water, and resources, as well as financial burdens, and an increase in displacement: climate change has the potential of costing over trillions of dollars (NASA, 2020). This is why I mentioned the innovation of our everyday activities as the first step to be learned from COVID-19, as well as unity next. To minimize the economic cost of displacement and financial relief, cohesive change of our everyday activities will be necessary to attempt to reverse the damage we have already created.
Without the steps we have taken worldwide to mitigating COVID-19: unifying, working quickly for a solution, finding innovative ways to adapt to the crisis, and protecting financially vulnerable individuals or those with fewer resources: gaining control of the spread of the virus may have never been possible. For our safety and well-being, we must take similar steps to prepare for the climate crisis or reverse the damage we have already created quickly. To keep the economy afloat, schools in sessions and society flowing, we cannot go back to normal. Our “normal” has been leading us into the biggest crisis of our lifetimes, climate change. With a unified plan of action, we can design a new normal. Together, we can create a more adaptable, equitable, resilient, and thriving World.
- Benfer, E., Gilman, S., Edmonds, L., Butler, S., & Robinson, D. (2020, September 16). The COVID-19 Eviction Crisis: An Estimated 30-40 Million People in America Are at Risk. Retrieved December 19, 2020, from https://www.aspeninstitute.org/blog-posts/the-covid19-eviction-crisis-an-estimated-30-40-million-people-in-america-are-at-risk/).
- Dcnewton. (2020, April 15). The Dark Side of Environmentalism: Ecofascism and COVID-19. Retrieved December 19, 2020, from https://usfblogs.usfca.edu/sustainability/2020/04/15/the-dark-side-of-environmentalismecofascism-and-covid-19/
- Independent Sector. (2020, June 15). The Impact of COVID-19 on Large and Mid-Sized Nonprofits. Retrieved December 19, 2020, from https://independentsector.org/resource/covid19-survey/
- Kumari, P., & Toshniwal, D. (2020, October 16). Impact of lockdown on air quality over major cities across the globe during COVID-19 pandemic. Retrieved December 19, 2020, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212095520304387
- NASA (2020, August 21). The Effects of Climate Change. Retrieved December 19, 2020, from https://climate.nasa.gov/effects/
- National Climate Assessment. (n.d.). Retrieved December 19, 2020, from https://nca2014.globalchange.gov/
- Patrício Silva, A., Prata, J., Walker, T., Duarte, A., Ouyang, W., Barcelò, D., & Rocha-Santos, T. (2021, February 1). Increased plastic pollution due to COVID-19 pandemic: Challenges and recommendations. Retrieved December 19, 2020, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7430241/
- Ramirez, M. (2020, September 25). Research: Displacement in the Face of Climate Change. Retrieved December 19, 2020, from https://www.nrdc.org/experts/marissaramirez/research-displacement-face-climate-change
- Sundaram, A. (2020, December 11). Yelp data shows 60% of business closures due to the coronavirus pandemic are now permanent. Retrieved December 19, 2020, from https://www.cnbc.com/2020/09/16/yelp-data-shows-60percent-of-business-closures-dueto-the-coronavirus-pandemic-are-now-permanent.html
- WHO. WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard. Retrieved December 19, 2020, from https://covid19.who.int/
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