With schools closed across 45 states and nearly 54 million students being sent home, the coronavirus outbreak will likely have a devastating impact on our children. The entire social order has been upended in a matter of days, with families being confined to their homes and told to physically distance themselves from others.
The coronavirus catatrasophe is exposing many of the areas where our society falters. Since 40 percent of Americans don’t have $400 in the case of an emergency, it will be impossible for large swaths of the population to go two weeks without any pay, never mind two months or more. The same gross inequities apply to educational system, and with students now dispersed away from school, the disadvantaged will be more behind than ever. For example, one in 10 New York City Public Schools students are homeless, meaning they don’t even have places to go during the systemwide shutdown.
On this week’s edition of “The Sports Kiki,” out high school basketball coach and athletic director Anthony Nicodemo joined the show to discuss the virus’ impact on the next generation, and the severe disruption it’s caused to our public education system.
“The kids just don’t have the technology,” he said. “Even in my years at Saunders (High School), every year, I had two or three kids without cell phones. This is a problem, and never mind not having your cell phones, now you’re talking about printers and laptops in their homes, and they just don’t have that. So you have to try and be creative and come up with the best ways to do this. It’s probably more interactive assignments, things where kids can go on the Internet, and watch a ‘Ted Talk,’ and analyze it. I think they handle that more, because the majority of them at least do have access to cell phones and WiFi. But the bottom line is, there’s no guarantee on that either. When we do get through this, we’re going to have a lot of questions to answer on where we go from here.”
In addition to being out of school, kids are also being instructed to stay away from their peers. Fortunately, Nicodemo says social media will help kids stay connected with the outside world, even if FaceTiming is not an ultimate replacement for face-to-face interaction.
“The positive is, we live in a generation where the younger people are Skype and Zoom and all of these other things — Instagram,” he said. “So someone from New York has a friend in Tennessee or a friend in Missouri, and they’re able to get on the computer and talk to each other. So I think that’s a positive to this. These kids will still have a way to communicate with their friends through FaceTime and things like that.”
Still, we need uninhibited social movement and interaction in order for there to be a properly functioning economy and society. This is the most abrupt shutdown of American life in history, with the President of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank projecting the unemployment rate could soar to 30 percent — higher than the Great Depression. Regardless of when we survive this catastrophe, Nicodemo says American life will be changed forever.
“We’re seeing something that we’ve never seen, we’re seeing something our parents have ever seen, and most people are seeing something that their grandparents have never seen. That’s the biggest piece we need to understand,” he said. “Any kind of norm is now gone. Will it be back? More than likely, but it will be changed forever I’m a history teacher. I’m a historian; I need history books like crazy. It’s my passion outside of sports. We are never going to be the same. Our country is going to fundamentally change economically and socially over the next six months. I think people need to understand that. We’re not going to be the same country. This doesn’t happen and things go back to normal.”
Click here to check out this week’s edition of “The Sports Kiki Podcast”. You can also subscribe to the show on Apple’s Podcast page as well as on Google Podcasts, and wherever you’ll find Outsports podcasts.