Guest blog for Kids of Canada by Jayanti Jerath.

It is that time of the year again. The month of September is significant for young people in Canada; with many of them returning to school, some to secondary school, some experiencing the transition from secondary school to university/college, and others beginning their graduate studies. 

For many young Canadians, it was expected that the fall semester would take place online. During the first week of September, I wondered if the winter semester would also be online - due to the number of COVID-19 cases increasing across the country and that’s what happened. March 13th, 2020 was the last day I was at McMaster University, and it seems that I will not be able to visit campus until the 2021-2022 academic year. I acknowledge the educational institutions' decision to establish an online semester, with the recommendations taken from academic professionals and health experts. However, I anticipate that universities, colleges and schools will be more prepared and organized when it is the right time to reopen the institution.

The pandemic has changed the entire world. By April 2020, close to “1.6 billion children and youth were out of school.” Health experts have also recommended that remote learning is the right decision to be taken for the academic year of 2020-2021. I do not prefer online learning but learning to adjust is an important decision that I have recognized.

Adjusting to online learning may be overwhelming and challenging, but always remember you are not alone. Having online classes has created a debate between students, educational professionals and health experts. Having in-person classes has its benefits- helps student socialize with their teachers, professors and other students. In a university, lecture halls are filled with a crowd, and in schools, hallways are filled with students. Although we cannot forget that the pandemic has not ended, going back to educational institutions is a risk for many students and staff.  

Many western countries and developed countries can provide students with online learning. I am grateful that I have a roof over my head, a device through which I can attend lectures, paper to write my notes and reliable internet to communicate with professors.

Although, the reality for many children around the world is different. In civil war countries like Yemen and Syria, children cannot complete their education due to political instability, economic crisis, child labour, and the fear of terrorism. Not every child worldwide can access education due to poverty, cultural beliefs, human rights violations, and not having access to technological resources, resulting in education not being prioritized. 

The pandemic is not over, and children’s' right to education cannot be ignored. Every child deserves and has the right by international law to access education regardless of race, ethnicity, socio-economic status or geographical location. Governments should prioritize accomplishing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #4, which is Quality Education, ensuring "inclusive and quality education for all and promotes lifelong learning." Obtaining an education is essential to have gender equality in a country and improve the socio-economic condition. Youth are the leaders of today and tomorrow. Knowledge will help the youth to make the world a better place.  

Being a second-year Political Science student like many others, it is okay to be nervous and anxious. There are many readings to complete, lectures to attend virtually or view, and there are assignments to complete. There are days I finish all my tasks, and there are days I cannot complete tasks, and I feel like to break down. However, it is normal to feel this because the pandemic has brought an unprecedented impact on everyone's life.

With most educational institutions offering classes online or in a blending learning format this academic year: find the balance to take care of your health and focus on your studies. Be organized, have a routine. Take breaks, write essential tasks in a planner and practise good study habits. Always remember you are more than your GPA. If you don't receive an A or a 4.0 GPA, it's okay - you tried, and you didn't give up. Grades are important but pulling all-nighters, taking an unhealthy amount of stress does more harm than good. Relax and have a positive mindset!