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The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic has affected educational systems worldwide, leading to the widespread closures of schools and universities.
As of 28 March 2020, over 1.7 billion learners were out of school due to school closures in response to COVID-19. According to UNESCO monitoring, over 100 countries have implemented nationwide closures, impacting nearly 90% of the world's student population.
School closures impact not only students, teachers, and families, but have far-reaching economic and societal consequences. School closures in response to COVID-19 have shed light on various social and economic issues, including student debt, digital learning, food insecurity, and homelessness, as well as access to childcare, health care, housing, internet, and disability services.
Efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 through non-pharmaceutical interventions and preventive measures such as social-distancing and self-isolation have prompted the widespread closure of primary, secondary, and tertiary schooling in over 100 countries.
Previous outbreaks of infectious diseases have prompted widespread school closings around the world, with varying levels of effectiveness. Mathematical modelling has shown that transmission of an outbreak may be delayed by closing schools. However, effectiveness depends on the contacts children maintain outside of school. School closures may be effective when enacted promptly. If school closures occur late relative to an outbreak, they are less effective and may not have any impact at all. Additionally, in some cases, the reopening of schools after a period of closure has resulted in increased infection rates. As closures tend to occur concurrently with other interventions such as public gathering bans, it can be difficult to measure the specific impact of school closures.
During the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic in the United States, school closures and public gathering bans were associated with lower total mortality rates. Cities that implemented such interventions earlier had greater delays in reaching peak mortality rates. Schools closed for a median duration of 4 weeks according to a study of 43 US cities' response to the Spanish Flu. School closures were shown to reduce morbidity from the Asian flu by 90% during the 1957–58 outbreak, and up to 50% in controlling influenza in the US, 2004–2008.
Multiple countries successfully slowed the spread of infection through school closures during the 2009 H1N1 Flu pandemic. School closures in the city of Oita, Japan, were found to have successfully decreased the number of infected students at the peak of infection; however closing schools was not found to have significantly decreased the total number of infected students. Mandatory school closures and other social distancing measures were associated with a 29% to 37% reduction in influenza transmission rates. Early school closures in the United States delayed the peak of the 2009 H1N1 Flu pandemic. Despite the overall success of closing schools, a study of school closures in Michigan found that "district level reactive school closures were ineffective."
During the swine flu outbreak in 2009 in the UK, in an article titled "Closure of schools during an influenza pandemic" published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, a group of epidemiologists endorsed the closure of schools in order to interrupt the course of the infection, slow further spread and buy time to research and produce a vaccine. Having studied previous influenza pandemics including the 1918 flu pandemic, the influenza pandemic of 1957 and the 1968 flu pandemic, they reported on the economic and workforce effect school closure would have, particularly with a large percentage of doctors and nurses being women, of whom half had children under the age of 16. They also looked at the dynamics of the spread of influenza in France during French school holidays and noted that cases of flu dropped when schools closed and re-emerged when they re-opened. They noted that when teachers in Israel went on strike during the flu season of 1999–2000, visits to doctors and the number of respiratory infections dropped by more than a fifth and more than two fifths respectively.
For schools and childcare facilities, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends short-term closure to clean or disinfect if an infected person has been in a school building regardless of community spread. When there is minimal to moderate community transmission, social distancing strategies can be implemented such as cancelling field trips, assemblies, and other large gatherings such as physical education or choir classes or meals in a cafeteria, increasing the space between desks, staggering arrival and dismissal times, limiting nonessential visitors, and using a separate health office location for children with flu-like symptoms. When there is substantial transmission in the local community, in addition to social distancing strategies, extended school dismissals may be considered.
|Countries and territories||Number of learners enrolled from pre-primary to upper-secondary education||Number of learners enrolled in tertiary education programmes||Additional information||See also||Ref|
|Afghanistan||9,608,795||370,610||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Afghanistan|||
|Albania||520,759||131,833||Schools are closed for two weeks.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Albania|||
|Algeria||9,492,542||743,640||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Algeria|||
|Argentina||11,061,186||3,140,963||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Argentina|||
|Armenia||437,612||102,891||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Armenia|||
|Austria||1,278,170||430,370||Schools are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Austria|||
|Azerbaijan||1,783,390||200,609||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Azerbaijan|||
|Bahrain||247,489||44,940||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Bahrain|||
|Bangladesh||36,786,304||3,150,539||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Bangladesh|||
|Belgium||2,457,738||526,720||Schools are closed but nurseries remain open.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Belgium|||
|Bolivia||2,612,837||--a||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Bolivia|||
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||428,099||95,142||Both schools and universities are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Bosnia and Herzegovina|||
|Bulgaria||974,469||249,937||Both schools and universities are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Bulgaria|||
|Burkina Faso||4,568,998||117,725||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Burkina Faso|||
|Cambodia||3,310,778||211,484||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Cambodia|||
|Cayman Islands||9,182||--a||2020 coronavirus pandemic in the Cayman Islands|||
|Chile||3,652,100||1,238,992||Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced that schools across the country would only close if confirmed cases of coronavirus occur among students.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Chile|||
|China (including Hong Kong and Macao)b||233,169,621||42,266,464||As the origin of the virus, China was the first country to mandate school closures. Following the Spring Festival holiday, China asked its nearly 200 million students to stay home and continue their educations online. According to UNESCO, as of 13 March China has started reopening schools although the majority remain closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in mainland China|||
|Colombia||9,124,862||2,408,041||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Colombia|||
|Costa Rica||1,100,782||216,700||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Costa Rica|||
|Côte d'Ivoire||6,120,918||217,914||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Ivory Coast|||
|Croatia||621,991||165,197||Both schools and universities are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Croatia|||
|Cyprus||135,354||45,263||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Cyprus|||
|Czech Republic||1,715,890||352,873||Both schools and universities are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Czech Republic|||
|Democratic People's Republic of Korea||4,229,170||526,400||2020 coronavirus pandemic in North Korea|||
|Denmark||1,185,564||312,379||Both schools and universities are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Denmark|||
|Ecuador||4,462,460||320,765||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Ecuador|||
|Egypt||23,157,420||2,914,473||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Egypt|||
|El Salvador||1,414,326||190,519||Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele ordered all schools to close for three weeks, following similar measures in Peru and Panama.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in El Salvador|||
|Equatorial Guinea||160,019||--a||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Equatorial Guinea|||
|Estonia||224,987||47,794||Schools are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Estonia|||
|Ethiopia||23,929,322||757,175||Ethiopia has closed all schools and issued a ban on all public gatherings.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Ethiopia|||
|Fiji||421,329||32,565||All schools and universities have been closed indefinitely.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Fiji|
|Finland||?||?||Pre-primary education and grades 1–3 will continue for the children of parents working in sectors critical to the functioning of society, as well as for children with special needs from pre-primary to upper secondary education. Early Childhood Education and Care will be provided for all children, whose parents are unable to arrange their care at home. In other levels of education, contact teaching can continue, if considered necessary for the completion of studies.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Finland|
|France||12,929,509||2,532,831||Schools are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in France|||
|Gabon||468,362||10,076||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Gabon|||
|Georgia||732,451||151,226||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Georgia|||
|Germany||12,291,001||3,091,694||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Germany|||
|Ghana||9,253,063||443,693||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Ghana|||
|Greece||1,469,505||735,027||Both schools and universities are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Greece|||
|Grenada||26,028||9,260||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Grenada|||
|Guatemala||4,192,944||366,674||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Guatemala|||
|Honduras c||2,018,314||266,908||Honduras announced it would close schools for two weeks.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Honduras|||
|Hungary||1,504,740||287,018||Both schools and universities are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Hungary|||
|Iceland||80,257||17,967||Schools are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Iceland|||
|Indonesia||60,228,569||8,037,218||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Indonesia|||
|Iran (Islamic Republic of)||14,561,998||4,073,827||On 23 February, Iran's Ministry of Health announced the closure of universities, higher educational institutions and schools in several cities and provinces.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Iran|||
|Iraq||7,010,788||424,908||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Iraq|||
|Ireland||1,064,091||255,031||Schools, colleges and childcare facilities are closed nationwide until at least 29 March.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Ireland|||
|Israel||2,271,426||210,041||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Israel|||
|Italy||9,039,741||1,837,051||Italy closed all schools and universities until at least March 15.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Italy|||
|Jamaica||552,619||74,537||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Jamaica|||
|Japan d||16,496,928||--||On 27 February 2020, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe requested that all Japanese elementary, junior high, and high schools close until early April to help contain the virus. This decision came days after the education board of Hokkaido called for the temporary closure of its 1,600 public and private schools. Nursery schools were excluded from the nationwide closure request. As of 5 March, 98.8 percent of all municipally run elementary schools have complied with Abe's request, resulting in 18,923 school closures.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Japan|||
|Jordan||2,051,840||320,896||On March 14, 2020, the Jordanian government imposed measures fight the outbreak, including a tighter lockdown that closes all borders and bans all incoming and outgoing flights, closing schools and universities for two weeks and banning daily prayers in mosques. The minister of Education announced launching TV channels to broadcast lessons to high school students. Private schools and universities announced their schedules of online listens using different channels.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Jordan|||
|Kazakhstan||4,375,239||685,045||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Kazakhstan|||
|Kenya||13,751,830||562,521||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Kenya|||
|Kuwait||632,988||116,336||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Kuwait|||
|Kyrgyzstan||1,443,925||217,693||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Kyrgyzstan|||
|Latvia||313,868||82,914||Schools closed until the 14th of April.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Latvia|||
|Lebanon||1,132,178||231,215||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Lebanon|||
|Lesotho||313,868||82,914||Lesotho declared a national emergency on March 18 and closed schools until April 17 (but allowed school meals to continue).||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Lesotho|
|Libya||1,510,198||375,028||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Libya|||
|Lithuania||460,257||125,863||Schools, nurseries and universities closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Lithuania|||
|Luxembourg||102,839||7,058||Schools are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Luxembourg|||
|Malaysia||6,677,157||1,284,876||Schools and universities are closed from 18 to 31 March.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Malaysia|||
|Mauritania||928,218||19,371||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Mauritania|||
|Mexico||33,159,363||4,430,248||Several universities, including the UNAM and Tec de Monterrey, switched to virtual classes on March 13, 2020. The following day, the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) announced that all sporting and civic events in schools would be cancelled. Also on 14 March, the Secretariat of Education announced that Easter break, originally planned from 6 to 17 April, would be extended from 20 March to 20 April as a preventive measure. The following day, 14 March, the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) announced that all sporting and civic events in schools would be cancelled. Also on 14 March, the Secretariat of Education announced that Easter break, originally planned from 6 to 17 April, would be extended from 20 March to 20 April as a preventive measure. On the same day the Autonomous University of Nuevo León, (UANL) (the country's third largest university in terms of student population) suspended classes for its more than 206,000 students starting on March 17 and ending until further notice.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Mexico|||
|Mongolia||870,962||155,248||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Mongolia|||
|Montenegro||111,863||23,826||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Montenegro|||
|Morocco||7,886,899||1,056,257||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Morocco|||
|Namibia||689,520||56,046||All schools were closed for a month on 14 March 2020. Although this does not automatically apply to universities, they also suspended face-to-face teaching.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Namibia|||
|Netherlands||3,336,544||875,455||On March 12, all Dutch universities suspended physical teaching until 1 April, but online teaching will continue.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in the Netherlands|||
|North Macedonia||298,135||61,488||Both schools and nurseries are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in North Macedonia|||
|Norway||1,073,521||284,042||Schools are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Norway|||
|Pakistan||44,925,306||1,878,101||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Pakistan|||
|Palestine||1,404,021||222,336||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Palestine|||
|Panama||837,246||161,102||Panama's education minister Maruja Gorday announced the suspension of classes at public and private school throughout most of the country starting on 11 March and extending at least through 7 April.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Panama|||
|Paraguay||1,519,678||225,211||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Paraguay|||
|Peru||8,015,606||1,895,907||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Peru|||
|Poland||6,003,285||1,550,203||Both schools and universities are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Poland|||
|Portugal||2,028,254||346,963||Both schools and universities are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Portugal|||
|Qatar||309,856||33,668||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Qatar|||
|Republic of Korea e||7,044,963||3,136,395||2020 coronavirus pandemic in South Korea|||
|Republic of Moldova||498,881||87,277||Both schools and universities are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Moldova|||
|Romania f||2,951,879||--||Schools are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Romania|||
|Russia||--||--||On 14 March, the Russian Ministry of Education advised schools across the country to adopt remote learning "as appropriate." The Moscow region introduced flexible attendance policies at area public schools and kindergartens, however all regular classes at schools would continue normally and children who elected to stay home at their parents discretion would learn online. The following day private schools in Moscow were urged to suspend operations for two weeks while several schools located within foreign embassies in Moscow were advised to enter a two-week quarantine. Moscow's chief sanitary doctor signed a decree banning visitors to boarding schools and orphanages. On 16 March, Moscow extended measures to closing public schools, universities, athletic schools and supplemental education institutions from 21 March to 12 April. Quarantine in all Russian schools since March 23. ||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Russia|
|Rwanda||3,388,696||75,713||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Rwanda|||
|Saint Lucia||30,925||2,237||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Saint Lucia|||
|Saudi Arabia||6,789,773||1,620,491||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Saudi Arabia|||
|Senegal||3,475,647||184,879||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Senegal|||
|Serbia||964,796||256,172||Schools are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Serbia|||
|Slovakia||832,055||156,048||Schools are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Slovakia|||
|Slovenia||332,677||79,547||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Slovenia|||
|South Africa||13,496,529||1,116,017||President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national disaster in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and closed all schools until the end of South Africa's Easter holiday. As of 16 March, the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation is expected to announce official measures impacting university and colleges across the country in response to a student at Wits University in Johannesburg who tested positive for coronavirus.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in South Africa|||
|Spain||7,696,101||2,010,183||Schools are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Spain|||
|Sri Lanka||4,917,578||300,794||The government ordered to close schools from 12 March to 20 April which also marks the end of the first term. The private tuition classes and tutorials are also closed for two weeks until 26 March.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Sri Lanka|||
|Sudan||8,171,079||653,088||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Sudan|||
|Switzerland||1,289,219||300,618||Schools are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Switzerland|||
|Syrian Arab Republic||3,491,113||697,415||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Syria|||
|Thailand||12,990,728||2,410,713||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Thailand|||
|Trinidad and Tobago||260,439||16,751||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Trinidad and Tobago|||
|Tunisia||2,479,163||272,261||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Tunisia|||
|Turkey||17,702,938||7,198,987||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Turkey|||
|Ukraine||5,170,368||1,614,636||Schools are closed.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Ukraine|||
|United Arab Emirates||1,170,565||191,794||All private and public schools and colleges have been instructed to close for four weeks from Sunday March 8.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in the United Arab Emirates|||
|United Kingdom||It was announced on the 18th March that all UK schools would close by the 20th (the end of that working week) for all but the most vulnerable children and pupils whose parents were working in fields considered particularly important to the anti coronavirus effort.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in the United Kingdom|||
|Uzbekistan||7,174,483||299,634||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Uzbekistan|||
|Venezuela||6,866,822||--a||President Nicholas Maduro issued a "collective quarantine" in seven states in Venezuela and suspended school and university classes.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Venezuela|||
|Yemen||5,852,325||267,498||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Yemen|||
|Zambia||3,955,937||56,680||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Zambia|||
|As of 17 March 2020[update] —
10 countries have localised schools closures, UNESCO estimates 473,933,356 learners are potentially at risk (pre-primary to upper-secondary education) and 77,938,904 learners are potentially at risk in tertiary education.
|Australia||Australia has not closed schools or universities in line with advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. Some private and independent schools have chosen to close.
On 22–23 March, the state governments of Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory contradicted federal government advice by enacting school closures, while the New South Wales state government encouraged students to stay home from school if possible. Many universities closed temporarily and transitioned to online learning.
|2020 coronavirus pandemic in Australia|
|Bhutan||Districts of Thimphu, Paro and Punakha||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Bhutan|||
|Brazil||As of 16 March, Brazil has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than any other Latin American country, however President Jair Bolsonaro has issued few country-wide measures to slow the spread of the virus. Because the president and federal government failed to act regarding the pandemic and had, as of 18 March, not decided to cancel classes in the whole country, lower instances of government acted autonomously. State schools, municipal schools, private institutions and universities acted differently regarding suspending classes at once, gradually or not at all, and between replacing classes with distance education or simply postponing them. Because of that, there are only "localised" (as opposed to "national") school closures, as of 20 March, according to UNESCO.
States such as São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Pernambuco have cancelled classes in state schools, but some municipal schools continue having classes normally even in those states.  Minas Gerais state initially cancelled classes for public schools between for only three days and on 18 March, the state governor announced that classes in the region of the state capital Belo Horizonte were cancelled indefinitely, because there was confirmed community transmission in the region, but the rest of the state would continue having classes normally until further notice.
In São Paulo, classes are being cancelled gradually, so that parents had time to come up with solutions that didn't involve letting the kids be with their grandparents. Between 16 and 20 March, students could go to class, but absentees would not be penalised. Classes were indefinitely cancelled starting on March 23.
Regarding the food safety of students, some municipal and state schools announced "food kits" for weekly pickup such as in Recife or that some selected schools would remain open for students to have lunch, such as in Espírito Santo.
In Higher Education, Unicamp was the first university of the country to cancel all classes, stating on 13 March. Initially, classes were cancelled until 31 March, but later the university extended the suspension until 12 April. On 11 March, one student of USP was confirmed with the disease, leading one department to cancel classes for a single day, and it wasn't until 17 March that the whole university cancelled classes. Many universities across the country cancelled classes, such as UFV (since 16 March) and UNILA (since 17 March), but others remain open.
In the city of São Paulo, which is home to half of Brazil's 120,000 Jews, Jewish schools have closed and some are providing class remotely over video. In Rio de Janeiro, Jewish day schools also closed in the absence of a state-wide decision regarding the closure of Rio's public and private schools.
|2020 coronavirus pandemic in Brazil|||
|Canada||On 16 March 2020, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged Canadians to stay home and closed its borders to all foreign nationals except for US citizens. As of 16 March at the provincial and territorial level, all schools are closed due to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Canada, with the exception of British Columbia and Yukon. However, Yukon schools began their spring break 16 March and on March 18, 2020 the closure was extended until April 15, 2020  The University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and the Emily Carr College of Art transitioned to online classes on March 16, and on March 17, K-12 schools in British Columbia were suspended indefinitely.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Canada|||
|India||On 16 March, India declared a countrywide lock-down of schools and colleges. On 19 March, the University Grants Commission asked universities to postpone exams till March 31. The board exams conducted by CBSE and ICSE boards have also been postponed until March 31.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in India|||
|Philippines||Metropolitan Manila, Manila City, Central Luzon, IIocos Region, Bulacan Province, Cavite Province, Rizal Province, Capas, and Tarlac||2020 coronavirus pandemic in the Philippines|||
|Sweden||Schools have remained open. On 17 March, the government of Sweden declared that high schools, vocational schools and Universities shall remain closed and recommended continuing lectures by distance education.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Sweden|
|United States||As of 21 March 2020, over 118,000 public schools in the United States had closed, affecting nearly 54 million students. 46 states and Washington D.C. have implemented statewide school closures.
As of 13 March, Virginia has instated the longest period of school closures, extending until the start of the 2020–21 school year. US President Donald Trump announced his intention to waive all federal student loan interest, however little further information has been shared providing details on the plan.
|2020 coronavirus pandemic in the United States|||
|Uruguay||As of 14 March, Uruguay will only close schools in case of registered cases of coronavirus among students.
The University of the Republic cancelled classes on March 13, 2020, and the government announced a two-week suspension of classes at public and private schools on Saturday, March 14. Schools were to remain open to provide meals to students, but without classes.
|2020 coronavirus pandemic in Uruguay|||
|Vietnam||All pre-primary, primary and lower secondary schools in Vietnam; and all upper-secondary institutions in the city of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh city, Da Nang and Hai Phong, as well as provinces of Kon Tum, Lai Chau, Lao Cai, Quang Nam, Quang Ninh, Son La, Thua Thien Hue, Tien Giang and Yen Bai.||2020 coronavirus pandemic in Vietnam|||
Note: Figures correspond to total number of learners enrolled at pre-primary, primary, lower-secondary, and upper-secondary levels of education [ISCED levels 0 to 3], as well as at tertiary education levels [ISCED levels 5 to 8] who could be affected should localised closures become countrywide. Enrolment figures based on latest UNESCO Institute of Statistics data.
School closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have shed a light on numerous issues affecting access to education, as well as broader socio-economic issues. As of March 12, more than 370 million children and youth are not attending school because of temporary or indefinite country wide school closures mandated by governments in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. As of 29 March, nearly 90% of the world's learners were impacted by closures.
Even when school closures are temporary, it carries high social and economic costs. The disruptions they cause affect people across communities, but their impact is more severe for disadvantaged children and their families including interrupted learning, compromised nutrition, childcare problems and consequent economic cost to families who cannot work. Working parents are more likely to miss work when schools close in order to take care of their children, incurring wage loss in many instances and negatively impacting productivity. Localised school closures place burdens on schools as parents and officials redirect children to schools that are open.
Women often represent a large share of health-care workers and often cannot attend work because of childcare obligations that result from school closures. This means that many medical professionals are not at the facilities where they are most needed during a health crisis.
Lack of access to technology or fast, reliable internet access can prevent students in rural areas and from disadvantaged families. Lack of access to technology or good internet connectivity is an obstacle to continued learning, especially for students from disadvantaged families. In response to school closures caused by COVID-19, UNESCO recommends the use of distance learning programmes and open educational applications and platforms that schools and teachers can use to reach learners remotely and limit the disruption of education.
To aid in slowing the transmission of COVID-19, hundreds of libraries have temporarily closed. In the United States, numerous major cities announced public library closures, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and New York City, affecting 221 libraries. For students without internet at home, this increases the difficulty of keeping up with distance learning.
School closures puts a strain on parents and guardians to provide childcare and manage distance learning while children are out of school. In the absence of alternative options, working parents often leave children alone when schools close and this can lead to risky behaviours, including increased influence of peer pressure and substance abuse.
Nutrition plays a critical role in cognitive development and academic performance for children.
In Washington State, around 45% of the states 1.1 million students enrolled in traditional public and charter schools qualify for subsidised school meals. At least 520,000 students and their families may be affected by food insecurity as a result of school closures.
School lunch programs are the second-biggest anti-hunger initiative in the United States after food stamps. Every year, nearly 30 million children rely on schools to provide free or low-cost meals including breakfast, lunch, snacks, and even dinner.
In Alabama, where state-wide school closures as of 18 March have affected over 720,000 students, the state Superintendent announced that staff in schools disproportionately affected by poverty would create meal distribution networks to provide food for students who rely on school lunches.
School closures negatively impact student learning outcomes. Schooling provides essential learning and when schools close, children and youth are deprived opportunities for growth and development. The disadvantages are disproportionate for under-privileged learners who tend to have fewer educational opportunities beyond school.
Student drop-out rates tend to increase as an effect of school closures due to the challenge of ensuring all students return to school once school closures ends. This is especially true of protracted closures.
Schools are hubs of social activity and human interaction. When schools are closed, many children and youth miss out of on social contact that is essential to learning and development.
When schools close parents are often asked to facilitate the learning of children at home and can struggle to perform this task. This is especially true for parents with limited education and resources.
Formal education — as opposed to informal education or non-formal education — tends to refer to schools, colleges, universities and training institutions. A 1974 report by the World Bank defined formal education as the following:
Formal education: the hierarchically structured, chronologically graded ‘education system’, running from primary school through the university and including, in addition to general academic studies, a variety of specialised programmes and institutions for full-time technical and professional training.
The majority of data collected on the number of students and learners impacted by COVID-19 has been calculated based on the closure of formal education systems. The UNESCO Institute for Statistics provides figures on students impacted by COVID-19 corresponding to the number of learners enrolled at pre-primary, primary, lower-secondary, and upper-secondary levels of education [ISCED levels 0 to 3], as well as at tertiary education levels [ISCED levels 5 to 8].
Early childhood educational programs are usually designed for children below the age of 3 and may refer to preschools, nursery schools, kindergartens, and some day care programs. While many primary and secondary schools have closed around the world due to COVID-19, measures impacting early childhood educational programs have varied. In some countries and territories,[which?] preschools and day cares are considered necessary services and have not closed in tandem with broader school closure measures.
In the United States, the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families encouraged child care and early learning centres to stay open. Some school districts may offer alternative child care options, prioritising the children of first responders and healthcare workers. The governor of Maryland mandated that specific child care services remain open for the children of emergency personnel while Washington State and California have left it to the discretion of care providers. California Governor Gavin Newsom explained his state's position, saying “We need our child care facilities, our daycare centers, to operate to absorb the impact of these school closures.” Colorado has encouraged the development of "tool kits" for parents to use at home to emulate the lessons children would have received in their early learning programs.
In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe closed all schools throughout the country until April 8, however, children's daycare facilities were excluded. In early March, five adults associated with a nursing facility for preschool children in Kobe tested positive for coronavirus. After testing over one hundred children at the facility, a preschool student was found to be carrying the virus.
Primary or elementary education typically consists of the first four to seven years of formal education.
The International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) canceled the examinations for its Diploma Programme and Career-related Programme candidates scheduled between 30 April and 22 May 2020, reportedly affecting more than 200,000 students worldwide. The IBO stated that it would award candidates their diplomas or certificates based on "their coursework" and "the established assessment expertise, rigor, and quality control already built into the programme."
Tertiary education, also known as higher education, refers to the non-compulsory educational levels that follow completion of secondary school or high school. Tertiary education is normally taken to include undergraduate and postgraduate education, as well as vocational education and training. Individuals who complete tertiary education generally receive certificates, diplomas, or academic degrees.
Undergraduate education is education conducted after secondary education and prior to post-graduate education, for which the learner is typically awarded a bachelor's degree. Students enrolled in higher education programs at colleges, universities, and community colleges are often refereed to in countries such as United States as "college students."
The closure of colleges and universities has widespread implications for students, faculty, administrators, and the institutions themselves.
In the United States of America, Colleges and universities operate as "mini-cities" which generate significant revenue for cities, states, and regions. For example, Princeton University contributed $1.58 billion USD to the New Jersey economy and students spent about $60 million in off-campus spending. College and university closures have a domino effect on economies with far-reaching implications.
According to Linda Bilmes of the Harvard Kennedy School, "local hotels, restaurants, cafes, shops, car rental agencies and other local businesses obtain a significant share of annual revenue from graduation week and college reunions... these communities will suffer a lot of economic damage if the colleges remain closed at that time."
Small towns which rely on college students to support the local economy and provide labour to local businesses are especially impacted by school closures and the exodus of students from campus. In Ithaca, New York, Cornell University students spent at least $4 million a week in Tompkins county. In the wake of Cornell's decision to keep students home following spring break and transition to virtual instruction, the Mayor of Ithaca called for "immediate and forceful federal action — we will see a horrific economic impact as a result of Cornell University closing."
UNESCO is sharing 10 recommendations during this period:
This article incorporates text from a free content work. 290 million students out of school due to COVID-19: UNESCO releases first global numbers and mobilizes response, UNESCO.
This article incorporates text from a free content work. How to plan distance learning solutions during temporary schools closures, UNESCO.