A student posted a message on social media in May saying, “I didn’t get to wear my uniform even once and I’m getting my summer uniform ready for the next semester.” Schoolkids and university students across the nation were devastated by the coronavirus epidemic. Freshmen in particular did not get to enjoy their matriculation and attended only a few days of school before they all locked down again, and now the academic year is almost at an end. The first years of school and university are some of the most important years of a young person’s life, and the loss is enormous.

Parents of elementary schoolchildren worry that their children might end up being traumatized by the epidemic for life. They fear that their children might be told that their first year of school, interrupted by the virus, will be blamed for any academic deficiencies later. Their kids had no chance to learn the rules as they did not attend school every day during this academic year. They ended up waking up later than usual to attend online lessons and had little or no chance of interacting with their peers.

Students sit far apart from each other at school and have to eat their lunch alone. Scenes of students chatting and mingling with each other are virtually nonexistent, and with everyone wearing face masks, even friends often pass by each other in the halls without recognizing each other. Parents are also worried that their young children have to learn everything from their laptops. “My child thinks of his teacher as a YouTuber,” one parent said. “I’m afraid he might become addicted to computers when I see him opening another window during online lessons and doing something else.”

First-year university students spent their whole year unable to do all the things they had. Many young men are said to be opting to begin their mandatory military service early because they cannot enjoy their college life and socialize with their classmates. One job-search portal surveyed 700 freshmen and found that 47 percent are thinking about moving to another university after retaking their admission exams for the sake of better job opportunities later on. The biggest reason is that they feel no sense of belonging. Also, more and more male university students are applying for administrative positions in the military so they can serve in a more comfortable setting.

There are 1.94 million first-year students at elementary, junior and senior high schools and universities this year. They went to school only 2.2 days a week on average and attend 4.3 hours of online classes a day. Fifty-nine percent only keep in contact with their friends through social media and a mere nine percent have met them in person. Almost one-third said they said do not keep in touch with their friends. The epidemic has blighted many young lives.

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