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Delectus - Scientific Journal, Inicc-Perú - [ISSN: 2663-1148]

URL: https://revista.inicc-peru.edu.pe/index.php/delectus

DOI: https://doi.org/10.36996/delectus

Email: publicaciones.iniccperu@gmail.com

Vol. 6 No. 2 (2023): July-December [Edit closure: 31/07/2023]


RECEIVED: 31/01/2023 | ACCEPTED: 20/06/2023 | PUBLISHED: 31/07/2023

Suggested quote (APA, seventh edition)

Camarena Pérez, I. (2023).The Crossroads of Education in Mexico during COVID-19. Delectus, 6(2),54-64. https://doi.org/10.36996/delectus.v6i2.201


The Crossroads of Education in Mexico during COVID-19

Irma Camarena PÉrez

capeir@yahoo.com.mx

University Center Of Los Altos, Department of Health Sciences, University of Guadalajara, Mexico

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4845-1356

The COVID-19 pandemic caused serious effects in all spheres of society on a global scale. In Mexico, the effects in the educational sector began to be experienced in March 2020 with the social isolation that made visible important problems in the educational system, among which three stand out: educational institutions were not prepared to migrate to virtuality; state policies for digital inclusion were not effective, and the digital divide was deeper than previously thought. In homes where resources made it possible to migrate to virtuality, there was a transformation from a space for coexistence to a multifunctional space for work and study. This paper presents reflections on the main findings of a study conducted in four technological high school institutions in Jalisco, one of the 32 states into which Mexico is politically divided and which, due to its socioeconomic indicators, is one of the most important in the country. It also presents an analysis of the challenges experienced at school and at home during the pandemic, ending with a reflection on the effectiveness of national public policies on digital inclusion and educational strategies implemented by the Mexican education system.

Keywords: Pandemic; COVID-19; Higher Secondary Education; Digital Inclusion; Educational Inclusion.

The health emergency generated by the arrival of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the cause of COVID-19, marks a milestone in the history of mankind due to the magnitude of its effects on all areas of people's lives: educational, economic, political, cultural, family and social. In March 2020, global confinement unexpectedly began, an unprecedented event. According to the COVID-19 report published by ECLAC-UNESCO, this measure was implemented in 190 countries, affecting 1.2 billion students of all educational levels, who had to abandon face-to-face education, more than 160 million of whom belonged to Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC-UNESCO, 2020).

Compulsory social isolation led to significant changes in school and family dynamics. Schools were closed and empty facilities were guarded by administrative personnel organized in "guards", i.e., groups of people with established schedules to attend to perform administrative activities and to be present to prevent acts of vandalism in schools. The home, which was traditionally a place for coexistence, rest and leisure, became a multifunctional space for work and study. Parents had to move home furniture and equipment to perform work activities (teleworking), while school-age children took the classroom to the bedroom or any other available space that would allow them to concentrate during their virtual classes.

In this context, the following article aims to contrast official figures from national and international agencies, in relation to some findings found in the study on the impact of the pandemic on education conducted in five public high school institutions in the state of Jalisco. Through inductive reasoning, the analysis describes the reality experienced in the family and school nucleus, in rural and urban environments. At the institutional level, some strategies implemented in the schools and the adjustments made in school management are included, highlighting the repercussions that any organizational change implies.

The role played by each of the actors in the new virtual educational scenario led to the modification of teaching and learning processes, altering traditional school dynamics and individual behavior. The consequences of these changes include a marked bureaucratization of processes and an increase in academic activities, both inside and outside class hours, which affected the physical, emotional and mental health of some members of the school community.

From an international perspective, we analyze some successful digital inclusion policies that were implemented during the pandemic and helped to address the deep digital divide existing in most Latin American countries. In closing, a brief reflection is made on the post-pandemic scenario, highlighting the significant lessons learned from the process, the academic and institutional strengths left by the health crisis and some proposals for taking advantage of them in the search for new opportunities for innovation.

Effects of confinement in the family, school and institutional environments

   - Access to the Internet and electronic devices

In a country as diverse as Mexico, the socioeconomic, technological, political and cultural contexts are different from one state to another. Social isolation as a preventive measure to avoid the spread of the virus accentuated in each family the difficulties and shortages, both economic and affective, these factors influenced the decision making in each household with the purpose of facing in the best way a pandemic for which no one was prepared.

Electronic communication devices and Internet access became indispensable for most people. Economic inequality made evident a marked difference in the type of deprivation between urban and rural populations. Data obtained through the National Survey on the Availability and Use of Information Technologies in Households (ENDUTIH) estimate that, during 2020, 83 million Mexicans over 6 years of age (71.5% of the total population) used the Internet, of which 78.2% were users in urban communities and 51.2% in rural communities. This figure rose to 88.6 million in 2021, 81.6% were urban dwellers and 56.5% rural. The trend of increase continued and in 2022, the figure rose to 93.1 million users, 83.8% lived in urban communities and 62.3% in rural areas. In terms of the number of homes with internet access, during 2020, 21.4 million homes had the service (59.9% of the total), this number increased to 24.3 million in 2021 and 25.8 million in 2022. Cell phone use also increased in the last three years, the survey indicates that in 2020, 87.2 million people over the age of six (75.1% of the population) used this technology, while in 2021 the figure rose to 91.7 million and in 2022 it reached 93.8 million (INEGI, 2022).

Due to their location, urban communities had some advantages compared to rural ones. In cities, the number of companies to contract communication services increases considerably and competition is encouraged to offer better internet service, either through wired or fiber optic technology, integrating packages that, according to the cost, make it possible to expand the bandwidth and connection speed. In addition, modern and state-of-the-art electronic devices can be acquired at competitive prices due to the wide range of commercial plazas for the sale of technology and specialized stores that offer electronic products of various brands, such as electronic tablets, iPads, smartphones, iPhones, laptops, among others. In contrast, rural communities have limited options due to the scarce supply of technological products and services. In addition, due to their remoteness and geographic location, they are more susceptible to the ravages of lack of coverage or poor, intermittent and low-quality Internet service.

   - Changes in family dynamics

In this context, the main challenges faced during the pandemic emerge. Electronic devices became an indispensable tool for work and study, which especially affected large and low-income families, who did not have the necessary devices to meet work and school demands. In view of this circumstance, they were forced to share cell phones and computer equipment, taking turns for a limited time for use among siblings, or from parents to children. In addition, spaces such as bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens were assigned and organized according to schedules for classes, homework and work activities. Homes were converted into offices or classrooms as required at any given time. The forced confinement combined with the aforementioned circumstances generated an inevitable change in family dynamics and social coexistence.

Economic income was an important factor for household stability, since there were families that were affected by the lack of employment due to personnel cuts in companies, as well as the reduction of work shifts, causing a decrease in monetary resources. At that time, young people were less vulnerable to contracting the disease and in case of infection, recovery was faster with less risk of complications. In this context, the labor market opened up new employment options for young people and there was an increase in the hiring of workers belonging to this sector of the population. In some households, the economic contribution that children could make became necessary and even indispensable.

In urban communities, jobs arose that mainly required the hiring of young people to perform telemarketing activities from home or as delivery workers for companies dedicated to home delivery of food, as well as products sent by parcel service. In rural communities, where primary economic activities such as handicraft work, agriculture and livestock farming predominate, some parents, disenchanted by the constant changes in educational processes and their children's poor school performance, opted to take them to work in the fields, mainly to help with the planting and harvesting of foodstuffs. In extreme cases, some decided to have their children drop out of school until the pandemic was over. Others, taking advantage of the flexible schedules of the virtual education model, were able to work part-time in family workshops and local businesses, managing to combine study and work.

   - Mental and emotional health effects

The confinement was prolonged and uncertainty prevailed due to the lack of treatment and vaccines to attack and prevent the virus. This affected the mental and emotional health of some members of the family. Among the factors that triggered psychological disorders such as stress, anxiety and depression, the constant media bombardment of catastrophic news through television and radio newscasts, as well as the proliferation of fake news in social networks and other media, had a significant influence. Other possible causes were the lack of knowledge about the virus and its effects, the uncertainty surrounding the development of vaccines, the shortage of oxygen tanks and beds in public hospitals during times of peak saturation, the increase in unemployment, confinement in small spaces, daily coexistence, the monotony of daily life with reduced options for recreation and distancing from the social environment.

Because most people were not used to spending all their time locked up at home, daily coexistence accentuated personal differences between some members, exacerbating tempers and increasing marital and family conflicts. Working from home became especially complicated for women, as they had to combine it with the responsibilities assigned to their gender role, such as childcare, feeding, schoolwork, household chores, caring for sick parents and relatives. In this sense, the UN (2020, p. 15) states that, "women spend three times more time than men doing unpaid domestic and care work every day (between 22 and 42 hours per week before the crisis)". Regarding school support, according to INEGI figures, 84.8% of children in preschool education received support mainly from their mothers, while only 5.9% received it from their fathers. In primary education, the percentages were 77.0% from the mother and 7.9% from the father, and in secondary school students, the support provided by the mother was 60.2%, while that of the father was 10.2% (INEGI, 2021).

These data allow us to understand that women faced an overload of domestic and work activities, due to the multiplicity of roles and functions they performed, which put their physical and mental health at risk. In this sense, the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) emphasizes that the additional burden of reproductive work, which involves balancing the care of children and other dependents, teaching, more demanding hygiene routines, along with the responsibilities of paid work, can generate and aggravate physical and mental health problems in women. All this occurred in a context where access to physical and mental health services to mitigate these problems was limited (CIM, 2022, p. 18).

It is important to note that in the health and education sectors there is a greater presence of women in these jobs. According to UNESCO data, in Latin America and the Caribbean, 70% of jobs in the education sector are held by women (UNESCO, 2021, p. 12). In the work environment, we can deduce that in addition to family responsibilities, female teachers were exposed to an excessive workload, since during the emergency remote teaching, the number of academic activities required for the preparation of virtual classes, the individualized review of assignments, self-learning in the use of technology, the resolution of doubts of students and parents, the completion of reports and other administrative documents that arose during the pandemic increased. This explains the vulnerability of women's physical and mental health.

A study conducted on a sample of 150 people attending a clinic of the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) in Tamaulipas revealed that 58% presented normal symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress, while the remaining 42% showed some problem in their emotional and affective state. This study concluded that women are the most vulnerable group, possibly as a result of the increase in household chores, since staying at home, their workload tends to double, which favors the appearance of mental disorders (Morales et al., 2021).
The increase in psychological and emotional disorders in the general population in the post-pandemic scenario requires timely attention and public policies that promote and guarantee the necessary infrastructure and an adequate budget to cover the needs and expand the coverage of mental health services in hospitals and public schools. Due to the lack or insufficiency of psychologists to attend students and teachers in need, they are referred to external care, which is not always possible due to the lack of economic resources. In this regard, the figure provided by UN Women Mexico is worrisome, as it indicates that worldwide there is less than one mental health professional for every 10,000 people and only 2% of the budget is allocated to mental health (UN, 2021).

   - The institutional challenge of school organization to cope with the pandemic

Public and private educational institutions at all school levels faced various challenges during the pandemic. Initially, the objective was to conclude the 2019-2020 school year, since social isolation began four months before the end of the school year. It was necessary to involve the entire educational community, including directors, administrative staff, teachers, students and parents. The main challenges at that stage included: avoiding, as far as possible, school dropout; concluding the school year satisfactorily, prioritizing teaching with the means, devices and resources available at that time; making the evaluation processes more flexible to prevent failure; and maintaining constant communication between teachers, students and parents in each school.

The commitment to achieve the aforementioned challenges was authentic and legitimate, however, we had to face a reality that made the slogan difficult to achieve. The deep digital gap that already existed, but had been ignored, as well as the deficiencies in the technological infrastructure of the schools and the lack of teacher training in the technological field, became evident. Beyond the conditions of schools, the crisis of the educational system called into question the effectiveness of digital inclusion policies, since the promise of Internet access for all, established in the National Development Plan (PND) and repeatedly mentioned in the political discourse, was not a reality for the most disadvantaged people.

Changes in school organization were undoubtedly the main challenge, since there was no certainty about a date for the return to face-to-face classes. In addition, control mechanisms were modified to monitor the teacher's compliance with a timetable and the performance of his or her educational work. Strategies were designed to monitor the execution of virtual teaching processes, causing excessive bureaucratization, due to the recurrent use of additional forms to those used in the face-to-face modality, which became required to prove the work performed.

The strategies implemented for administrative and labor control caused some teachers to feel constantly observed, watched and in some cases harassed. The administrative staff in charge of the groups had access to the virtual classrooms. Teachers were also exposed to the presence of parents and others at home during the online sessions. The traditional attendance list was insufficient as evidence that the teacher attended and completed the teaching work, so complementary formats were created to prepare additional reports documenting the academic activities carried out and the personalized follow-up given to the students. This generated an increase in the time dedicated to educational work outside class hours.

Control mechanisms were extended to students and teachers had to design strategies to monitor learning in their groups, send assignments and resolve doubts. The most used messaging application at that time was WhatsApp, due to the fact that cell phones became the most used devices during the pandemic. According to INEGI data, in the 2019-2020 school cycle, 65.7% of the surveyed students used smartphones, 18.2% opted for laptops, 7.2% desktop computers, 5.2% used digital television and 3.6% electronic tablets (INEGI, 2021). The use of electronic devices by educational level in each of the school cycles (2019-2020) and (2020-2021), is shown in the following table:

Table 1.
Percentage of Use of Technological Devices by School Cycle and Educational Level
School cycle Educational level Smart cell phone Laptop PC Desktop PC Electronic tablet Digital TV
(2019-2020) Elementary 72% 9.6% 4.0% 5.6% 8.8%
Secondary 70.7% 15.9% 8.2% 2.8% 2.9%
High school 58.8% 26.5% 12.7% 1.7% 0.2
Higher 33.4% 52.4% 12.9% 1.2% -
(2020-2021) Elementary 70.2 9.8% 3.9% 5.6% 6.7%
Secondary 68.5% 17.4% 8.1% 3.0% 1.8%
Upper middle school 53.3 30.9 13.1 2.2 0.2
Higher 31.8 55.7 11.2 1.1 -
Source: (INEGI, 2021)

Globally, UNESCO notes that the most used means to maintain communication between teachers, students and parents during emergency remote learning were four: 83% communicated through WhatsApp/SMS message exchange; 74% used phone calls to parents and students; 65% established contact through email; and 43% made home visits (UNESCO, 2021b).

The WhatsApp application was the most widely used for communication among the actors in the educational process, including managers, administrative staff, tutors, teachers, students and parents. Groups were created for different purposes according to the role each one played. Tutors, social workers and educational counselors generally created groups to establish personalized communication with students. The main objective was to learn about the difficulties they might be facing during the pandemic and to be attentive to provide guidance on aspects related to mental, emotional and behavioral health, as well as to detect economic problems, Internet access and academic performance. On the other hand, teachers focused on learning and teaching issues, monitoring homework submission, attendance to virtual classes and the corresponding evaluations. Meanwhile, managers coordinated the delivery of reports and evidence of administrative and academic staff performance, in addition to scheduling virtual meetings to keep the educational community informed about the measures and strategies to be implemented.

Emergency remote teaching required teachers to have additional time and availability to prepare their classes online, since it was necessary to adapt what they taught in the face-to-face environment to the virtual modality. Among the activities they carried out for this purpose, the following stand out: search for digital resources to complement their classes (videos, tutorials, podcasts, games, etc.); redesign learning activities adapted to the new educational scenario; create their own didactic material according to the teaching needs (videos, presentations, infographics, etc.); establish new criteria and indicators to evaluate the quality of their teaching (videos, presentations, infographics, etc.); establish new criteria and indicators to evaluate the quality of their teaching (videos, presentations, infographics, etc.). ); establish new criteria and indicators to measure learning through the creation of evaluation instruments such as rubrics and checklists; explore and learn on their own the use of new educational platforms such as Classroom or Moodle and review tutorials for real-time video streaming with applications such as Zoom, Teams, Webex, Skype, Streamyard, Jitsi, among others.

As can be seen, the teachers' workload increased considerably. In addition to the above, they spent time answering WhatsApp messages or answering phone calls outside their class time. All this without neglecting their personal and family responsibilities. Unfortunately, social and educational authorities' recognition of the hard work performed by teachers was insufficient. Their role was indispensable and irreplaceable, however, the focus of attention was centered primarily on the students, leaving aside the needs and affectations of the academic staff, minimizing the repercussions on physical and mental health, as a result of being subjected to excessive workloads and high levels of stress.

The situation experienced by the students was also complicated, although they were accompanied by tutors, social workers and educational counselors. The preventive measures implemented to avoid dropout and failure, as well as such accompaniment, were effective in numerical terms. According to INEGI figures, in the 2019-2020 school year, only 2.2% of students did not complete their studies. Of the 33.6 million students enrolled in that cycle, only 738.4 thousand did not complete the school year, of which 98.2 thousand were preschool students, 146.1 thousand elementary school children, 219.2 thousand high school students, 181.3 thousand middle school students and 89.9 thousand higher education students (INEGI, 2021, p. 15). However, the same survey reveals that in the 2020-2021 school year, a total of 5.2 million students in the country, equivalent to 9.6%, did not enroll. Of that number, 2.3 million did not enroll due to COVID-19 and 2.9 million due to lack of economic resources.

   - Digital inclusion policies

Public policy is understood as any governmental action aimed at solving problems affecting the population with the objective of improving people's living conditions. On the other hand, inclusion is defined as the action of including, creating the conditions for everyone to have the same conditions for access. An inclusion policy refers to the implementation of planned strategies with the purpose of ensuring that all citizens have equal opportunities to improve their quality of life. In the digital sphere, this implies, in addition to the above, actions aimed at allocating resources to create the necessary technological infrastructure to achieve universal access to Internet service and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

Given the fundamental role that technology plays in all areas of people's lives and the prominence it acquired during the HIV/AIDS pandemic, it is essential for governments to evaluate the effectiveness of the digital inclusion policies and programs implemented over the last two decades. During the health crisis, the deep digital divide that already existed became evident and was further accentuated, affecting the teaching-learning process of those who did not have access to the Internet or electronic devices for communication.

Although most countries have implemented digital inclusion policies, few have obtained favorable results, mainly due to the lack of continuity with each change of government. UNESCO states that "Only in countries where policies last and transcend periods of government are concrete results achieved. Most of them refer to improvements in connectivity and access in educational centers, as well as to the increase of digital content" (UNESCO, 2021, p. 8).

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the strategy of digital inclusion policies has been different. Some countries prioritized the provision of electronic devices, others focused on free Internet service, and some opted for a combination of both measures. Data published by UNESCO show that as of October 12, 2020, Chile delivered 16,500 tablets to technical and professional students; Colombia provided free navigation and delivered 77,000 laptops to teachers in rural communities; Cuba offered free mobile data; Ecuador provided support to marginalized rural communities, facilitating mobile data plans and delivering 4,000 tablets; El Salvador delivered approximately 15,000 computers to teachers and tablets to students; Panama provided free Internet access, as well as tablets and cell phones; and Paraguay focused on supporting indigenous communities, delivering 2,500 computers with connectivity, in addition to 12,000 computers granted by the Paraguayan Ministry of Education and Science, and cell phone providers enabled free browsing on educational platforms (UNESCO, 2021).

Uruguay is one of the countries that has stood out for the results of its policies, due to the fact that it anticipated the transition from face-to-face to virtual education. Since 2007, it has maintained a digital inclusion policy called Plan de Conectividad Educativa de Informática Básica para el Aprendizaje en Línea, known as the CEIBAL plan. This program began with the strategy of providing "one computer per child". In this sense, ECLAC points out the three axes that govern its strategic actions:

The uniqueness of the experience lies in the complementarity and simultaneity of three components: social, educational and technological. The social component aims to contribute to social inclusion by guaranteeing universal access to computers and the Internet. The laptops are owned by the children and teachers, which makes it possible to use them in the family and community, as well as at school. The general objective of the educational component is to improve the quality of education through the integration of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in classrooms, schools and homes, promoting innovation in each center or classroom. Finally, the technological component aims to provide adequate and timely infrastructure and connectivity to develop the project (ECLAC, 2012, p. 126).

En In the case of Mexico, there is a lack of continuity in digital inclusion policies, since they are modified every six years in each government plan. Navarrete Cazales et al. (2020) analyze the different digital policies implemented in the country during the 21st century, among which the following stand out: the School Network (1997-2004); the Encyclopedia Program (2003-2011), Digital Skills for All (HDT) (2009-2012), Mi compu.mx (2013-2014), the Digital Inclusion Pilot Program (PPID) (2013-2015) and @prende (2014-2015). Each project had different purposes, according to the social commitments of the ruler in office, which makes consolidation in the medium and long term difficult.

In contrast, during the last fifteen years, the continuity of two national Distance Education (EaD) programs has been maintained. For Higher Secondary Education (EMS), Prepa en Línea SEP was created in 2014, according to the decree of the Official Journal of the Federation (OJF, 2014). For Higher Education (HE), official recognition was granted in 2012 to the Open and Distance University of Mexico (UnADM), as established in the DOF (2012). It should be noted that the latter, started as a pilot program in 2009 under the name of Open and Distance Higher Education (ESAD) and was consolidated as an official university until 2012. Both programs are free of charge and were designed to expand educational coverage to sectors of the population that require schedule flexibility to carry out their studies, since due to circumstances such as physical condition, geographic location, family or work responsibilities, they lack the time necessary to attend the face-to-face modality that requires compliance with fixed schedules and physical presence.

   - Post-pandemic educational scenario

The experience lived during almost two years of suspension of on-site classes leaves an important precedent. Thanks to the work and commitment of all those involved, such as directors, administrators, teachers, students and parents, it was possible to maintain educational continuity. The strategies implemented made it possible to avoid, as far as possible, school dropout and failure. New challenges are now being faced, including: reversing educational backwardness through remedial strategies for students; improving the technological infrastructure of schools; guaranteeing quality Internet access in classrooms; incorporating the use of digital resources and platforms in educational practice; strengthening teacher training in the area of technology; and moving towards hybrid or virtual education models in line with the post-pandemic scenario.

Educational institutions were forced to move into three different educational modalities in the last two years: face-to-face, virtual and hybrid. The main lesson learned from the crisis in the educational system was the ability to adapt in the most critical moments. The skills acquired in the use of educational technology can become a strength, since we are not exempt from facing confinements in the future. These experiences will contribute to making better decisions in the event of another pandemic.

In the post-pandemic scenario, the convergence of traditional, distance and hybrid educational modalities stands out. Each teacher decides, based on the technological skills developed, the didactic strategy he/she wishes to use, with the possibility of incorporating any of the three modalities, if he/she considers it pertinent. Classroom education retains its hegemony; however, hybrid and distance education have proven to be viable options for other sectors of the population who, due to family or work responsibilities, need flexibility of time and schedule to continue with their studies.

In this order of ideas, some suggestions are proposed to innovate the educational practice based on the significant learning acquired and the use of the school technological infrastructure available after the health crisis. The post-pandemic scenario could offer competitive advantages to institutions. The diversification of modalities and the need for more flexible models offer an opportunity for schools to expand their educational offerings and explore other possibilities that will allow them to increase enrollment, providing coverage to other sectors of the population using the technological infrastructure they now have. In addition, the knowledge that teachers have acquired related to the use of digital platforms and resources could have an added value and be put to good use. These types of educational transformations could benefit young people who had to abandon their studies during the pandemic because they had to prioritize work and economic support for their families. It would be a viable alternative for those who dropped out of school and are now interested in resuming or completing their academic training.

Another alternative to take advantage of the technological infrastructure of schools would be the design of virtual or hybrid continuing education courses, which could be offered to companies. In addition, workshops and regularization courses could be designed for graduates who need to make up for the cognitive deficiencies left by the pandemic, especially in technical or experimental subjects. A strategy of this nature could generate additional resources to invest in strengthening the technological infrastructure and contribute to the culture of institutional sustainability, which is increasingly necessary given the global economic crisis affecting the world. In 2020, the Inter-American Development Bank warned of a global economic crisis after the pandemic:

The expected economic crisis and the consequent drop in fiscal revenues, as well as the demands that will continue in other sectors such as the health sector, will impose greater budgetary constraints on the education sector. This is expected to have an effect on the budgets and spending projections of the ministries of education. In short, the situation of reopening schools will not be under the same conditions that existed before the crisis (Arias Ortiz et al., 2020, p. 4).

The above suggestions, in addition to the aforementioned benefits, promote a constant updating of their teachers in the field of educational technology and in case of a new health contingency, the academic staff will have the necessary preparation to make better decisions to face the challenge of distance education, should it be necessary.

The confinement exposed the economic and digital inclusion difficulties faced by society. The data show that the digital divide was deepest in rural communities and low-income areas. The pandemic caused important changes in school, social and family dynamics, as well as an increase in physical, mental and emotional health problems. After reflecting on what we have experienced, new questions arise: To what extent has the change in the educational paradigm benefited society, are we better prepared to face a health crisis in the future, what have been the changes after the pandemic in public policies on education and digital inclusion, and what have been the changes in public policies on education and digital inclusion? The answer to these research questions requires other studies that help us to know the progress made and what remains to be done.

Every crisis is an opportunity to show the capacity of human beings to adapt to change. The pandemic was no exception, although it was a difficult stage, with the passage of time it is possible to assess that all the actors in the educational process acquired new learning that can be used to innovate didactic strategies taking advantage of the benefits offered by technology. Governments and educational institutions could strengthen the commitment to invest greater resources and allocate them to technological infrastructure, with the purpose of offering a better service and having better conditions to face challenges and challenges, in case a pandemic occurs again.

 

Limitations: This study presents some important limitations worth mentioning. First, it should be noted that the lack of equitable access to electronic devices and the Internet has led to significant inequalities in access to education and remote work. This digital divide may have influenced the selection of the sample and the representativeness of the participants, which could affect the generalizability of the results to other populations. In addition, the control and surveillance measures implemented during remote teaching generated a bureaucratization of education and an increase in the administrative burden on teachers, which could have affected the quality and accuracy of the information collected in this study. These limitations should be taken into account when interpreting and generalizing the results obtained.

Contribution to scientific knowledge: The study contributes scientific knowledge by highlighting the importance of considering socioeconomic and technological inequalities during prolonged confinement. It provides information on the difficulties faced by families and educational institutions during the pandemic, which can be used to design future public policies and strategies. It also highlights the need for sustainable digital inclusion policies to reduce the digital divide and ensure equitable access to education and mental health services.

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Conflicts of interest: The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Authors' contribution:
Camarena Pérez, I: Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Methodology, Research, Supervision, Writing - original draft, drafting: revising and editing.

Informed consent: Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.

Data availability statement: Not applicable.