For 18-year-old Huang Yiyang, school starts when she opens up her laptop.
Over the past two weeks, there have been no school bells, bustling corridors, busy canteens or uniforms. Instead of physically traveling to her public school in Shanghai, Huang sits at her laptop from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. — often in her pajamas — watching livestreamed class after livestreamed class.
For physical education class, her teacher performs exercises for students to follow. For English, she sits silently through lectures to virtual classrooms of 20 to 30 students.
She puts stickers or tissues over her webcam, so her classmates can't see her if a teacher calls on her to answer a question. “We're at home, so we don't look so good,” she says.
Huang barely leaves the house, and she hasn't seen her friends for a month. But while she is isolated, she's also part of what may be the world's largest remote learning experiment.
In a bid to stop the spread of the disease, schools across China are closed, leaving about 180 million school-aged children stuck at home.
And mainland China is just the start. Millions of students in Hong Kong, Macao, Vietnam, Mongolia, Japan, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq and Italy have been affected by school closures. For some, that means missing class altogether, while others are trialing online learning. Authorities in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom have indicated that, if the outbreak gets worse, they could shut schools, too.
But while online learning is allowing children to keep up their education in the time of the coronavirus, it's also come with a raft of other problems. For some students, the issues are minor — shaky internet connections or trouble staying motivated. For others, the remote learning experiment could come at a cost of their mental health — or even their academic future.
Read more about the world's largest remote learning experiment here.