The coronavirus broke out in China during December 2019 and thanks to the media storm surrounding the topic, almost everybody is aware of the massive issues it is causing in China.

As of writing this article, there are over 40,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and more than 1000 deaths. It’s very sad news and our thoughts and blessings go out to all those affected.

For those of us who don’t live in China, it’s very difficult to comprehend the devastating affects this new coronavirus (now called ‘COVID-19’) is having on the lives of the Chinese people. Not only are people afraid of contracting the disease but many businesses, schools and other institutes have had to shut down.

In this article we are going to focus specificaly on the impact of COVID-19 on education and foreign teachers in China.

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Effect on Education in China

When it comes to teaching English in China, many agencies have chosen to suspend any and all positions until the outbreak of coronavirus has died down. Our team have been aware of people who secured jobs before the outbreak occured but are now being told not to fly over. It’s a sad state of affairs but perhaps necessary, especially for those positions which are close to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak.

However, what about the English teachers who are already in China? Or ALL teachers for that matter? Well, classes are continuing as usual, but mostly online. You see, China has postponed the start of the Spring semester until early March (this could still change) and until then, schools have committed to online learning.

Schools are delivering classes through online video, and even live streaming through platforms like Alibaba’s DingTalk.

China’s ministry of education also has plans to launch a massive cloud learning platform for students from primary to high school level. This all is no doubt going to contribute to the growth of China’s online education market.

The new shift into online learning has been positive for some students, while for others it has been a difficult adjustment. Many students are no-doubt pleased as it means no more waking up at early hours to get to school on time. Others, however, have noted their lack of motivation to study without their classmates around.

Teachers are also having to adjust to delivering classes to a camera instead of a classroom full of students. Older teachers find it difficult to adapt to the new technology and others note that the lack of class interaction is difficult to get past.

You may be wondering why schools have shut down, especially those further away from the outbreak. Well, the Chinese government is taking any and all precautions in order to reduce the spread of this new virus. This included quarantining the entire city of Wuhan and issuing warnings advising citizens to stay home and not leave their apartments.

(above picture shows Chinese Physics teacher conducting a lesson via live stream. Photo: Xinhua)

English Teachers in China – Some leave, Some Stay Put

Many goverments have issued warnings advising their citizens to leave China if they can. However, there are many people who have chosen not to leave or who simply don’t have the money to spend on flights.

English teachers in Beijing, the bustling Chinese capital of over 20 million people, are saying the city is currently more like a ‘ghost town‘. It seems that Chinese citizens on the whole are a lot more concerned about leaving their apartments. Their attitude makes sense considering the 2003 outbreak of SARS. Foreigners, however, are often a bit less worried and venture out to enjoy the quiet.

International Students Now ‘Stuck’ in China

Many Chinese students who were planning to study in Australia are now stuck in China, not knowing if they will be able to leave in time for the start of the new academic year.

Many Chinese students flock to Australia to attend university but the coronavirus travel ban means they aren’t able to enter the country. Australian student numbers have dropped considerably as a result and many students are now fearing that the lack of student registrations may mean the cancellation of their chosen programs.

Not only is the travel ban affecting international students but it may also deliver a massive hit to the Australian economy. Chinese students contributed around $12 billion dollars last year to the Australian economy and this year would have likely been more!

Australian universities are looking at ways to move forward and are reportedly considering online classes for those Chinese students unable to travel.

(above picture shows Chloe Sadilands, an English teacher in Beijing. Photo: BBC)

Final Thoughts

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in China is scary. People are suffering with or without disease as the quality of daily life has been seriously impacted.

If you have recently landed a job in China as an English teacher, we would advise you to follow up with your school and/or agency to see whether they are still open and whether or not you will be able to fly over. If possible, it may be wise to delay your departure until things have died down a bit (which will hopefully be quite soon!).

It’s also important to note that the vast majority of COVID-19 cases have been in Wuhan. There are many places in China that are considered safe.

In closing, we’d like to offer our support to anyone currently in China. Remember to get enough sleep, increase your intake of immune boosting vitamins and supplements and most importantly, stay positive!

Much love from the Teacup Chinese Team.

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