By Professor Chris Chapman, Director of Policy Scotland
With just under two million cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and around 120,000 deaths across 213 countries, areas or territories, the global COVID-19 pandemic is having a catastrophic social and economic effect on all corners of the globe.
The costs of this pandemic are already high, even for those who will survive the pandemic. Virtually none of us will be untouched in some shape or form by the virus, whether it be through social distancing and isolating. The impact will be greatest for those living in the most crowded circumstances and in the worst housing. It is likely that the most vulnerable within our societies will suffer the most in terms of their health and wellbeing. For example, there is emerging evidence to suggest that the most vulnerable children are not attending the schools that have been kept open for them. It is clear that COVID-19 will hit our poorest communities and most vulnerable citizens the hardest.
This said, during these dark times there must be an optimistic perspective that we can cling on to. With the challenge that this crisis brings there is also an opportunity to recalibrate our behaviours and systems for the better. For example, Andreas Schleicher from the OECD argues that this moment holds the possibility for real change for education:
Real change often takes place in deep crisis, and this moment holds the possibility that we won’t return to the status quo when things return to “normal”. While this crisis has deeply disruptive implications for education, it does not have predetermined implications. We have agency, and it is the nature of our collective and systemic responses to these disruptions that will determine how we are affected by them.Andreas Schleicher, Quality Education For All During Coronavirus, OECD, 2020, p5
The effect on education has been huge. For example, the closure of schools in 184 countries has been felt by around 1.54 billion children. However, the impact of COVID-19 has been stark on a range of public policy settings. Schleicher’s argument will resonate with researchers, policymakers and practitioners concerned with the economy, justice, health and social care, housing, infrastructure and many other domains. Put simply, there will be no return to the past normality and this disruption provides us with the opportunity to reframe and redesign our future.
It is our view that the Academy has a key role to play in shaping the debate about how our future is reframed and redesigned. At the University of Glasgow, Policy Scotland is rising to this challenge. We are drawing on our existing networks and extending them further to undertake, co-ordinate and curate research and knowledge exchange activity that draws out the early lessons from the field. We are offering a space where research, intelligence and commentary about emerging practice can be reviewed, exchanged, shared and challenged. In undertaking our own research and drawing together internationally excellent research and knowledge exchange activity we aim to bring together robust evidence and trusted experience that can provide robust insights for policy makers and practitioners alike.
The scope for this type of activity is huge. This is why we have limited ourselves to working in a discrete set of issues. Policy Scotland is focusing on five key themes where we have significant expertise and which we assess as crucial to the Academy’s response to COVID-19:
- Community Resilience and Addressing Disadvantage
- Economics and Finance
- Education, Children and Families
- Housing and Infrastructure
- Jobs, Labour Market and Innovation
As demands change over the coming weeks and months our response to COVID-19 will inevitably evolve and flex to respond to the short, medium and longer-term challenges that emerge from this horrific pandemic.
Cite this article: Chapman, Chris. Coping with COVID-19, Policy Scotland, 16 April 2020, https://policyscotland.gla.ac.uk/coping-with-covid-19
Written content is published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 4.0 licence.