Olja Jovanović Milanović 

Department of psychology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Serbia | olja.jovanovic@f.bg.ac.rs

With COVID-related school closures, many countries have turned to home-based online instruction to ensure continuity of learning. However, the focus on online learning means that many disadvantaged learners are left behind due to a lack of resources of different kinds. Symposium will discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on learners who were already experiencing social and educational disadvantage, but also if the COVID-19 crisis created new gaps among students that had been successfully bridged within school context. Since the disturbances, such as pandemic, offer a potentially powerful lens for understanding the interconnection between micro-level events and macro-level structures, we hope that this symposium will contribute to better understanding of the interaction between the COVID-19 pandemic, structural inequalities, and student diversity across different educational contexts.


Tina Obermayer  

University of Vienna, Austria | seyda.subasi@univie.ac.at

Seyda Subasi Singh

University of Vienna, Austria

Gertraud Kremsner

University of Leipzig, Germany

 Oliver Koenig 

Bertha von Suttner University, Austria

Michelle Proyer 

University of Vienna, Austria

Since the ‘beginning’ of the pandemic, new information about the current crisis situation is available almost every hour. Measures against the spread of COVID-19 are constantly being updated, changed and adapted, which has an impact on educational practices, policies and planning like in every other area. On the other hand, the inequities due to the pandemic are discussed in relation to educational context, too. In this paper, we aim to present theoretical foundations related to the concept of vulnerability in the context of COVID-19. In several studies, for example, restrictions on access to digital tools or the issue of educational injustice has been a topic in the literature with a perspective on “particularly vulnerable” groups. Vulnerability gains different meanings within a short period of time and it is attributed to different groups of people during pandemic due to newly created vulnerabilities. Although vulnerabilities are not only relevant in a crisis situation, they are particularly visible and sometimes exacerbated. An analysis and in-depth description of the functions of the social constructions about vulnerability is relevant per se for educational processes that reinforce such tendencies, but are also able to counteract them. In the sense of a democratic thinking of freedom, we aim to direct one’s gaze to some of the blind spots in the context of education that are in danger of remaining hidden in the wake of the crisis. This discussion pays attention to the fact that specific needs of individuals are and remain hidden in the shadow of the pandemic, which will be zoomed in with a special focus on the vulnerabilities of the people with disabilities. The deepening effect of the pandemic on the existing invisibilities and the increasing social distancing, loneliness, and otherness will be contextualized in educational context. 

Keywords: vulnerability, people with disability, inclusion, crises, pandemic


Katarina Bogatić

Department of Pedagogy, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Osijek, Croatia | krengel@ffos.hr

As a structural group, children are subordinated due to a lack of positions of power and access to resources when compared to adults. In turbulent times, such as the currently unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, it is presumed that the subordinated groups are the ones who feel the consequences of such a crisis at a larger scale when compared to the structural groups with more power and resources. Available research on the effects of the various changes brought upon by the pandemic in relation to early childhood education and care (ECEC) as well as research on the perspectives of all involved stakeholders is hardly scarce, especially taking into consideration the limited time available for conducting such research. For this narrative literature review, a literature search was conducted in three electronic databases using key words in English (the following combinations of words were used: covid-19/coronavirus/pandemic and early childhood/preschool/kindergarten). The search focused on journal articles published from the beginning of January 2020 until March 2021. Review of selected research indicates a focus on the varying national responses to the pandemic in relation to ECEC as well as the „novel“ expectations from the different stakeholders of ECEC in conditions of increased stress and instability. For example, parents, among other things, having to work from home as well as care for their children and be much more involved in their children’s education, which was at some periods of time going on at home; early childhood teachers, among other things, having to cater to both children attending early childhood settings as well as those who are at home, having to learn to navigate an online „enactment“ of early childhood curriculum as well as having to support families and communities in this changed educational context; and children, among other things, having to learn to cope with a changed and often changing social context of their everyday lives, disrupted routines, instability, stressed adults, lack of movement and varying sensory experiences, as well as, in some cases, a missing mandatory early childhood education programme before starting elementary school. Whilst all of them have to adapt to a lot of challenges, adults could see this as an opportunity to further their competencies – actively, consciously work on developing competencies needed to get through the pandemic – a sort of a heightening of the roles they have had thus far. The children, on the other hand, are the ones who are at a disadvantage and in some cases have to depend on the adults to provide something that has been denied to them because of the pandemic as well as develop some entirely new competencies. This distinction is why supporting and researching children’s perspectives on the pandemic is critical for understanding its effects.

Keywords: children, power, COVID-19 pandemic, early childhood education and care (ECEC), early childhood teacher


Katarina Mićić

Department for Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Serbia | katarina607@gmail.com

Tijana Jokić Zorkić

Centre for Education Policy, Belgrade, Serbia

Selena Vračar

Department for Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Serbia

Tünde Kovacs Cerović

Department for Psychology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Serbia

The emergency remote schooling confronted students from vulnerable groups (SVG) with novel educational obstacles and amplified some of the old ones. Besides compromising the education of SVG, health risk of in-person contacts and prevailing reliance on digitally mediated communication also limited the possibilities for research. This study explores (in)equity by relying on the perspective of teachers and mainstream students. Digitally mediated dynamic storytelling engaged 145 students and 79 teachers in writing stories about online schooling and letters to a peer. In total, 432 narratives were thematically analysed. Students addressed many barriers in online schooling – lack of technical equipment (5% of students), difficulties in learning without in-person instruction (23%), and chaotic and demanding schedules (63%). Narratives revealed school-work related anxiety (12%), demands for understanding (8%), and additional support from teachers (13%) and family members (7%). Also, 4% wrote about digitally mediated peer-support, which is a lever most SVG cannot rely on. Teachers described a major displacement of their professional roles due to numerous obstacles, and thus the inability to address the needs of SVG. Difficulties in mastering the digital world (35%), chaotic procedures (56%), overwhelming daily communication and working long hours (45%), left them with little resources to support SVG. Still, 40% of teachers addressed the schooling of SVG in their narratives, however by referring to disadvantaged students mostly. Also, 40% recognized some students lack equipment, 32% expressed concerns about lack of parental assistance. The narratives included expressions of understanding and care for SVG and statements of determination to find a way around the obstacles. More importantly, 8% of teachers reflected on how circumstances enabled a better understanding of the individual differences, e.g., they describe how “shy” students became active under new conditions or how they got to know their students better than ever. This led to pinpointing the importance of the individualized approach to every child in the narratives. The narratives shine a realistic but often dramatic light on the ways how exclusion happens and indeed happened during last years’ lockdowns. They also portrayed ways how teachers, at least some, re-constructed education individualization thus hopefully laying the ground for a re-thought of inclusive practices and equity in the future.

Keywords: equity, vulnerable groups, emergency remote schooling, inclusion


Éva Markó

University of Pécs, Institute of Education Science, Hungary

University of Pécs, Institute of Psychology, Hungary | marko.eva@pte.hu

Hanga Bilicz

University of Pécs, Doctoral School of Regional Policy and Economics,

Szabolcs Bandi

University of Pécs, Institute of Psychology, Hungary

Enikő Csilla Kiss

University of Pécs, Institute of Education Science, Hungary

Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary, Institute of Psychology, Hungary

The ongoing global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has severe and multifaceted consequences regarding people’s lives, their physical and mental health. Parents everywhere in the world are impacted by stressors and strains that follow in the wake of restrictions. Our aim was to examine the effects of coronavirus pandemic and the consequences of restrictions on parents’ mental well-being. In our online survey, we apply the Hungarian version of the Perceived Stress Scale, the Parental Stress Scale, the Parental Resilience Elements Questionnaire and a self-design questionnaire asking the participants about the significant changes they may experience in different domains of their life due to the pandemic. In our ongoing research, the number of participants is 177 so far (155 female and 22 male), between 28-62 years old. The current results reveal that 70% of the parents experienced significant changes in the circumstances of their work, 54% of all the parents, and 68% of the subgroup of parents of children with special needs faced difficulties due to the changing circumstances of their child’s education. Regarding the field of parenting, 39% of all the parents and 40% of the subgroup of parents of children with special needs experienced significant changes due to the pandemic. The current results also show the tendency that parents of children with special needs reported a higher level of perceived stress (t(164)=0.443, p>0.05), higher level of parental stress (t(175)=1.099, p>0.05) and lower level of parental resilience (t(175)=-0.818, p>0.05), however, these differences are not statistically significant. Our findings underline some of the negative effects of the pandemic and the restrictions on parents’ mental health and highlight the more vulnerable group such as parents of children with special needs, who and whose family may need much more professional support in the face of this adversity.

Keywords: parental stress, resilience, COVID-19, children with special needs