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When the novel coronavirus (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 – SARS- CoV-2) first emerged in December 2019, the world was not prepared for what came right after. The virus quickly spread across Europe and, in a few weeks, strayed into a planetary scale. The world realised that this deadly virus was unlike others of the kind, which only attacked distant and underdeveloped countries with a poor health system. Now, the whole world was facing an enemy that hit almost all countries worldwide, with different degrees of intensity, showing no country was safe, regardless the strength of their economy or the development of their healthcare system. Governments quickly put in place measures that sought to prevent COVID- 19 from spreading, but, in a few weeks, the number of infected citizens and the death toll was daunting.

Thus, the world had to quickly adapt to this reality, as this scenario is expected to remain dynamic (Abajo, 2020). Supra-national entities such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) – that declared the state of pandemic (Teles, 2020) –, the United Nations (UN) and, at the European level, the European Union, as well as national governments, swiftly took severe measures that aimed to contain the spread of the virus. Yet, the face of the planet changed almost overnight, as – borrowing a phrase from a popular band – it was the end of the world as we knew it. While the changes traverse the whole spectrum of society, in the economic, societal, environmental and other spheres, the focus of this opinion piece is the educational arena in Portugal, notably the changes that took and are taking place, the strategies put in place, the hindrances, and the opportunities that are emerging with this shift in the educational paradigm.

Maria José S. Sá
CIPES – Centre for Research in Higher Education Policies, Matosinhos, Portugal CHER member

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