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Write out the highlights of the research paper. 

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Effects of COVID-19 and Isolation on University Students and Academic Staff

Abstract

In 2019/2020, the world was hit by a global health crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The emergency of this pandemic prompted nations shut down and to close down institutions and
industries to contain and mitigate the spread of the virus. Isolation and lockdown were mandatory measures across countries. During Covid-19 and isolation periods, many people worldwide felt the impacts of the pandemic and isolation as a measure to contain the disease. An example of a population that felt the impacts of the pandemic and isolation was university students and the academic staff. According to research findings, by March 2020, more than 60 million teachers and 87% of enrolled students felt the impact. Universities closed down, postponed, and canceled related activities in response to the measures. University students and the academic staff were forced to stay in their homes to avoid socially interacting with people other than their family members. This paper explores the impacts of Covid-19 and isolation on university students and the academic staff, drawing from literature reviews and research findings from other scholars.

Introduction

The emergency of the global health crisis due to coronavirus prompted the shutdown of
academic institutions across the world. In quest of mitigating the spread of the pandemic,
economies issued various measures to ensure the safety of their citizens. These measures affected
all sectors of the economy, including the education sector. Isolation was one of the measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus; however, the measure significantly impacted the students and academic staff members in American universities and the world in general.

Higher Education Institutions require schools, educators, and students to adopt the
measures for the safety and protection of the students and the workforce. According to research
findings, by March 2020, more than 60 million teachers and 87% of enrolled students felt the
impact. Universities closed down, postponed, and canceled related activities in response to the
measures. The energy intake levels increased among the students during isolation compared to the intake in the previous years when there were no pandemic and isolation measures (Gallo et al. 2020). University students and the academic staff were forced to stay in their homes to avoid
socially interacting with people other than their family members. Even though the survey shows
that university students and the academic staff perceived the isolation and lockdown as an essential measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus, most of them agreed and recorded that their academic and work performance was significantly affected (Cruz et al. 2020). Social interaction is an essential aspect of humanity and life; therefore, COVID-19 and isolation have significantly impacted the life of university students and the academic staff.

Effects of COVID-19 and Isolation on University Students and Academic Staff

Covid-19 and isolation negatively impacted the psychological and mental wellbeing of
university students and the academic staff. After the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, many
countries resolved for the best methods they would use to safeguard and protect their citizens.
Some of the measures were isolation, use of face masks, quarantine, and closure of institutions and industries. Isolation meant that people would stay away from each other because ‘keep distance’ was introduced across countries. Staying away from people, peers, and colleagues is stressful (Issa& Jaleel, 2021). According to research, human beings are social beings since they naturally thrive on socializing and interacting. Isolation as a way of containing and restricting the movement of people has curtailed people from socially interacting, leading to the breakup of social ties and disconnectedness among people. It meant that people would not meet, have fun and discuss their daily issues as they used to do before the pandemic outbreak.

University students and the academic staff became lonely because household confinement restricted their morbidity and reduced direct socialization and interaction with other people. Therefore, many felt anxiety, stress, and depression because of loneliness and a lack of people to talk to and share what they are going through. During the pandemic, many people lost their jobs while others lost their loved ones because of the virus. Loss of jobs and loved ones due to the pandemic is mentally and psychologically torturous; however, it is more tormenting not to attend or see your loved ones due to isolation (Mucci et al., 2020).

The pandemic claimed the lives of many people across the globe. Our loved ones died
because of the pandemic; however, due to containment measures such as isolation and quarantine, a considerable number of people would only be allowed to attend the burial of the deceased. It is tormenting and stressful not to attend the funeral of your first cousin, grandmother or grandfather, or a sibling that is far from you because you are in isolation. Hence, Covid-19 and isolation impacted the psychological and mental wellbeing of university students and the academic staff because not only did it bur them from meeting people; it also triggered the emergence of mental health issues such as anxiety, fear, despair, and uncertainty (Mucci et al., 2020). Research shows that psychiatric and mental health cases increased during the pandemic and isolation. Covid-19 and isolation impacted university students’ and academic staff’s physical health and energy intake levels.

The pandemic came as a result of the coronavirus. The virus would attack people and cause physical illness and weakness. People would cough, sneeze, become weak and develop breathing issues. This implies that the virus deteriorated people’s health, making them weak and ill. Moreover, isolation meant that people would not normally exercise because the gyms and other exercise grounds were closed down to contain the spread of the pandemic. According to research findings, staying at home reduced physical movements among university students and the academic staff.

Therefore, most of them accumulated more weight due to binge eating, while others
reduced their weight because of stress, anxiety, and depression. Furthermore, a study by Gallo et
al. (2020) illustrates that energy intake levels increased among the students during isolation
compared to the intake in the previous years when there were no pandemic and isolation measures (Gallo et al. 2020). The authors argue that this was prevalent in women as compared to men populations. The increased energy intake is because of isolation and restriction of movements among these people. Staying indoors and operating between the fridge and kitchen and the toilet results in higher energy intake.

Since there was the closure of many industries, many students and the academic staff
feasted on poor dietary intake, this is attributed to the lack of nutrition and diet, low finances, and
increased demands during the pandemic. Similarly, isolation required the students to study online
while some academic staff members worked from home. That implies that there was too much
sitting in one place, which increases energy intake in people. Covid-19 and isolation led to reduced academic achievement and work performance among university students and academic staff.

In March 2020, many institutions were closed down, forcing students and the academic
staff to operate from their respective homes. Research indicates that many nations have introduced online learning methods and working from home as well. The online study method impacted students’ learning process and academic performances in general. Research has shown poor performances of university students in subjects such as Mathematics because they require face-to-face instructions to help students grasp the content and the formulas better. Based on research by Cruz et al. (2020), university students and the academic staff perceived the isolation and lockdown as an essential measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus, most of them agreed and recorded that their academic and work performance was significantly affected (Cruz et al. 2020). Students from low-income earning families or poor backgrounds could not manage to attend all the online classes due to issues with remote internet connections. Furthermore, some students could not hire private tutors to take them through learning during the isolation measure. Similarly, some students were undergoing tough and stressful moments because of the adverse impacts of the pandemic.

Some university students’ parents had just been laid off, some lost their parents, and some
lost their siblings while some lost their close friends. All these incidences can affect one’s
concentration in one way or the other. Therefore, the academic performance of most university
students derailed, causing most of the students to lag in their academics. Consequently, the academic staff faced the same. Most of them were lied off, others did not receive their salaries,
while others lost their loved ones and had to be part of the responsibilities Research indicates that
some got late submitting their work while others were too stressed to handle it. Such incidences
have lowered the performance levels of some of the academic staff members. According to a cross section study by Leal et al. (2020), Covid-19 and isolation ensured students and the academic staff stayed in their homes. The current work environment and institutional setups require teamwork and collaboration between students, teachers, and the academic staff.

The collaborative working relationship helps the students and the academic staff to build a strong relationship and ensure the success of each individual and team. Before Covid-19,
university students stayed together, learned together, and carried out group discussions that were
key to their understanding and performances. However, during the pandemic and isolation, people stayed in their homes and worked on their own. Some of the academic staff failed to beat their deadlines in submitting their work because of being overwhelmed by the adverse effects of the pandemic. Most of the academic staff members are parents, guardians, and breadwinners in their capacities. With the stresses, anxiety, and financial constraints they were undergoing due to
isolation, most of them did not meet the expectations and requirements of their employers. This
affected their performances both at individual and institutional levels (Leal et al., 2020). Even
though Covid-19 and isolation measures negatively affected university students and the academic staff, some studies show that Covid-19 and isolation impacted them positively in some ways.

This was when the university students and the academic staff got time to connect with their families (Leal et al., 2020). Being a university student and working at the university entails a lot. Students have projects, assignments, course work, and group works assigned to them to
accomplish. When they are done, they are super tired and need to rest before the next day. Classwork and employment duty schedules reduce the time spent by their families. Therefore,
university students and the academic staff had enough time to reconnect with their families and
build stronger bonds during the pandemic. This was the time when most of them accomplished
family projects and attended to family matters. Higher ups and colleagues reported that most of the respondents admitted to having built a new and stronger bond with their family members, unlike before the pandemic and isolation measures.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the global health crisis caused by Covid-19 greatly impacted various parts of the world. Many nations were forced to shut down institutions and industries to mitigate the spread of the virus. This paper has analyzed the extent of impacts that isolation and Covid-19 caused on university students and academics. Research studies show the extent to which operations in universities were interrupted and the mental, physical and psychological impacts they had on the lives of university students and the academic staff. However, even though isolation negatively impacted these populations, some research findings indicate that isolation played a key role in strengthening family bonds because members were forced to stay home and catch up on their lost time with their loved ones.

References

Cruz, M. F., Rodríguez, J. Á., Ruiz, I. Á., López, M. C., de Barros Camargo, C., Rosas, F. D., …& Simón, E. J. L. (2020). Evaluation of the Emotional and Cognitive Regulation of young people in a lockdown situation due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Frontiers in psychology, 11.
Gallo, L. A., Gallo, T. F., Young, S. L., Moritz, K. M., & Akison, L. K. (2020). The impact of isolation measures due to COVID-19 on Australian university students’ energy intake and physical activity levels. Nutrients, 12(6), 1865.
Issa, H., & Jaleel, E. (2021). Social isolation and psychological well-being: lessons from Covid-19. Management Science Letters, 11(2), 609-618.
Kotera, Y., Green, P., Rhodes, C., Williams, A., Chircop, J., Spink, R., … & Okere U. (2020). Dealing with isolation using online morning huddles for university lecturers during physical distancing by COVID-19: Field notes. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 21(4), 238-244.
Leal Filho, W., Wall, T., Rayman-Bacchus, L., Mifsud, M., Pritchard, D. J., Lovren, V. O., … & Balogun, A. L. (2021). Impacts of COVID-19 and social isolation on academic staff and students at universities: a cross-sectional study. BMC public health, 21(1), 1-19.
Mucci, F., Mucci, N., & Diolaiuti, F. (2020). Lockdown and isolation: psychological aspects of COVID-19 pandemic in the general population. Clinical Neuropsychiatry, 17(2), 63-64.

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