Education in pandemic times: The tragedy of empty classrooms

Kids demonstrating in front of the President’s house

[This is a behind the scenes expanation in english. For the full LA NACION’s UX experience, please visti the links provided. Thanks in advance!]

The closure of schools resulted in one of the most harmful effects of pandemic and LA NACION positioned itself as a media referent on the matter, as it was approached from multiple perspectives, with profound and innovative approaches.

The selected productions evidence the level of monitoring and dedication to show the problem with editorial and visual quality.

In November 2020, when a school year was ending with no in-person classes in Argentina, an interactive special was published to show success and failure cases worldwide in the reopening of classes, with the analysis of each strategy and own graphics to reflect the incidence of the virus in each country when the most important decisions on face-to-face education were being taken.

When finally Argentina, one of the countries that maintained schools closed for the longest periods, decided the reopening of schools, we accompanied that moment with a visual simulation to explain our audiences the details of protocols under the new normality with illustrations and recreations of the most highlighted scenes. Equally, we decided to a make a differential focus and give a voice to children, the real protagonists of this situation. With the appropriate legal authorization, students from different forms and with different realities told us about their stories, the effects they felt during a year with virtual classes and the expectation of returning to school.

Click to access
Click to acces the visual simulation

When the Argentine government caught citizens by surprise and announced a new closure of schools in April facing Covid-19 second wave, LA NACION defined it was necessary to make visible the reflections of audiences in real time and add them to the debate with a highlighted space in a national scope media.

Click to access Message Forum that collected 8000 readers’ messages

In a few hours, LA NACION developed a massage forum moderated by journalists from an administrator- which reflected the different opinions on the matter: in favor of, neutral or against the presidential decision. Nearly 8000 readers’ messages were published. Likewise, as a closure of the project, each message and the most used words to justify the different positions were classified and analyzed.

With the discussion regarding in-person classes at the top of the agenda, and a political cleavage regarding the matter, LA NACION pursued to strip virtuality reality with concrete cases by means of a special production with two twelve-year-old boys undergoing distance learning in very different socio-economic conditions. Fieldwork was carried out by a journalist and a photographer during 24 hours in the house of each minor. The educational gap aggravated by virtuality ceased to be a supposition, an opinion or a projection: it was evidenced in this story told in two plans with a multimedia contribution that maximized the bitterness of the narration.

Click to access a special production with two twelve-year-old boys undergoing distance learning in very different socio-economic conditions


The strategy was to show education in pandemic in all its complexity and in its many facets and implications. For a renowned media such as LA NACION, emphasizing education, a matter displaced from media agenda during 2020, was an opportunity and an obligation.

Argentina closed schools at the very beginning of coronavirus outbreak and it did not reopen them in the whole year. Virtuality consequences, both at an academic and emotional level, became the main concern of parents but not of Government. This is the reason why LA NACION decided to accompany this community concern with a display of productions on the matter that helped to make the situation visible, and it was extremely appreciated by our audiences. Readers not only answered with messages thanking our actions but they also participated actively in the installed debate through the already mentioned tool by means of which they could express themselves.

Another way of measuring the impact is by means of metrics: all proposals related to this subject recorded a high level of visits in our site with an average of 70,000 pageviews.

Challenges were continuous as the information at a worldwide level was very dynamic, with successive openings and closures of schools and that modified our interactive pieces that monitored the situation globally in real time. As well as in many other projects, the key to overcome difficulties consisted in transversal work developed by professionals from different areas: journalists, data analysts, producers, designers, programmers and photographers.

LA NACION was, undoubtedly, the media that reflected the matter most profoundly with a continuing follow-up, and it has been acknowledged even by journalists from the competition.