1.1 Background to the study
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). These viruses were originally transmitted from animals to people. SARS, for instance, was transmitted from civet cats to humans while MERS moved to humans from a type of camel. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. The name coronavirus comes from the Latin word corona, meaning crown or halo. Under an electron microscope, the looks like it are surrounded by a solar corona. The novel coronavirus, identified by Chinese authorities on January 7 and since named SARS-CoV-2, is a new strain that had not been previously identified in humans. Little is known about it, although human-to-human transmission has been confirmed (Ajazeera, 2020).
According to the WHO, signs of infection include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia, multiple organ failure, and even death. Current estimates of the incubation period - the time between infection and the onset of symptoms - ranging from one to 14 days. Most infected people show symptoms within five to six days. However, infected patients can also be asymptomatic, meaning they do not display any symptoms despite having the virus in their systems (Ajazeera, 2020). Several governmental measures have been taken to counteract the risk of disease spreading. These measures include travel restrictions, mandatory quarantines for travellers, social distancing, bans on public gatherings, schools and universities closure, business closures, self-isolation, asking people to work at home, curfews, and lockdown (Bedford et al., 2020; Gostin and Wiley, 2020). Authorities in several countries worldwide have declared either lockdown or curfew as a measure to break the fast spread of virus infection (Paital et al., 2020). These measures have a negative worldwide effect on business, education, health, and tourism (Pragholapati, 2020).
COVID-19 pandemic has affected all levels of the education system (Nicola et al, 2020). Educational institutions around the world (in 192 countries) have either temporarily closed or implemented localized closures affecting about 1.7 billion student populations worldwide (UNESCO 2020). Many universities around the world either postponed or canceled all campus activities to minimize gatherings and hence decrease the transmission of the virus. However, these measures lead to higher economical, medical, and social implications on both undergraduate and postgraduate communities (Nicola et al, 2020; Esposito and Principi, 2020). Due to the suspension of classroom teaching in many colleges and universities, a switch to online teaching for undergraduate and graduate students becomes effective [reviewed in (Sahu, 2020; Yamin, 2020). This form of learning provides an alternative way to minimize either the contact between students themselves or between the students and lecturers (Pragholapati, 2020).
However, many students have no access to online teaching due to a lack of either the means or the instruments due to the economical and digital divide (UNESCO 2020). The local government is host to many educational institutions. Among the educational institutions are public senior secondary schools and private senior secondary schools. Sometimes around March 2020 many of the public and private senior secondary schools have been shut down in compliance with the federal government directives that all educational institutions should be shut down to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The importance of education to human development has been well documented, highlighting the catalytic roles of education in national and human capital developments (Fägerlind & Saha, 2016; Griffin, Care & McGaw, 2012). Education is a means of self-development through learning, knowledge, skills, and habits conveyed across generations. The importance of education for the economic, social and moral development of nations cannot be under-estimated. It is of significant concern that education at all levels has been threatened since the emergence of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The coronavirus disease is a highly infectious disease that has plagued the world population over the months from December 2019 till date. The disease spread through droplets (World Health Organization, 2020) and has affected more than 9.1 million persons and resulted in about 473,000 deaths worldwide (Aljazeera News, 2020) as at the time of writing this paper. As a result, countries have relied on several containment measures, including a range of physical and social distancing measures to flatten the epidemiological curve and avert morbidity and mortality due to COVID-19 (Barasa et al., 2020; Viner et al., 2020). Different countries have engaged in various measures to implement physical distancing, such as complete closure of the economy, including educational institutions (Nicola et al., 2020; UNESCO, 2020). The pandemic is affecting all levels of the education system, from pre-school to higher education, in a manner that is of irreparable educational and economic implications (Lindzon, 2020). For instance, a four-week school closure in New York City translated to an economic impact of about $10.6 and $47.1 billion (Lindzon, 2020). A 12-week nationwide school closure cost 1% of GDP (Araz et al., 2012), while protracted closures could cost 3% of UK GDP (Keogh-Brown et al., 2010).
Though school closure is intended to control the spread of the virus within schools, prevent carriage to other vulnerable individuals, and sustain public health, these closures have had widespread socioeconomic impacts (Lindzon, 2020; Wren-Lewis, 2020; Cauchemez et al., 2009). Furthermore, the far-reaching effects of social/physical distancing and the associated lockdown measures, as well as school closures, have thwarted the education sector and are expected to leave an indelible mark on the education system (Impey, 2020; Yinka & Adebayo, 2020; Nicola et al., 2020). Over 188 out of 195 countries have been implementing nationwide school closures and restricted education facilities (Nicola et al., 2020; UNESCO, 2020). It is estimated that more than 1,576, 021, 858, which constitute about 91.3% of all the learners across the globe, have been affected by the closure of educational institutions (Fong et al., 2020; Nicola et al., 2020; Sadique Adams & Edmunds, 2008; Brown et al., 2011; UNESCO, 2020).