Impact of the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic on education

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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.[1]

School closures impact not only students, teachers, and families, but have far-reaching economic and societal consequences.[2][3] School closures in response to COVID-19 have shed light on various social and economic issues, including student debt,[4] digital learning,[5][6] food insecurity,[7] and homelessness,[8][9] as well as access to childcare,[10] health care,[11] housing,[12] internet,[13] and disability services.[14]


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.[15]

Previous outbreaks of infectious diseases have prompted widespread school closings around the world, with varying levels of effectiveness.[16][17][18] 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.[19][20] 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.[16][17] Additionally, in some cases, the reopening of schools after a period of closure has resulted in increased infection rates.[21] 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.[21]

During the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic in the United States, school closures and public gathering bans were associated with lower total mortality rates.[17] Cities that implemented such interventions earlier had greater delays in reaching peak mortality rates.[22][21] Schools closed for a median duration of 4 weeks according to a study of 43 US cities' response to the Spanish Flu.[22] School closures were shown to reduce morbidity from the Asian flu by 90% during the 1957–58 outbreak,[23] and up to 50% in controlling influenza in the US, 2004–2008.[24]

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.[25] Mandatory school closures and other social distancing measures were associated with a 29% to 37% reduction in influenza transmission rates.[26] Early school closures in the United States delayed the peak of the 2009 H1N1 Flu pandemic.[16] Despite the overall success of closing schools, a study of school closures in Michigan found that "district level reactive school closures were ineffective."[27]

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.[28] 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.[29]

Hazard controls

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.[30]


  • On 26 January, China instituted measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak which included extending the Spring Festival holiday to contain the outbreak. Universities and schools around the country closed.[31]
  • On 23 February, Iran's Ministry of Health announced the closure of universities, higher educational institutions and schools in several cities and provinces.[32]
  • On 3 March, UNESCO released the first global numbers on school closures and affected students. It reported that 13 countries had enacted preventive measures including the temporary closure of schools and universities, impacting 290.5 million students around the world. In reaction, UNESCO called on countries to support affected students and families and facilitate large-scale inclusive distance learning programs.[33]
  • On 4 March, the Italian government ordered the full closure of all schools and universities nationwide as Italy reached 100 deaths.[34] In doing so, Italy became one of 22 countries on three continents which had announced or implemented school closures.[33]
  • On 5 March, the majority of learners affected by COVID-19 emergency measures were located in China, with 233 million learners affected, followed by Japan at 16.5 million and Iran at 14.5 million.[35]
  • By 10 March, one in five students worldwide was "staying away from school due to the COVID-19 crisis" while another one in four was barred from higher education institutions.[36]
  • On 13 March, governments in 49 countries announced or implemented school closures, including 39 countries which closed schools nationwide and 22 countries with localised school closures.[15]
  • By 16 March, this figure increased from 49 to 73 countries according to UNESCO.[15]
  • By 19 March, 50% of students worldwide were affected by school closures, corresponding to nationwide closures in 102 countries and local closures in 11 countries affecting 850 million children and youth.[37]
  • By 20 March, over 70% of the world's learners were impacted by closures, with 124 country-wide school closures.[15]
  • On 23 March, all Nigerian school were found to have been closed down by Nigerian government, markets as well as companies were closed down and children were forbidden by parents to step out of their homes.[citation needed]
  • On 26 March, all New Zealand schools and universities have been closed down across the country.[38][39] The government has imposed a two-week holiday, allowing schools to transition to forms of distant teaching as soon as possible.[38] Universities have closed for one week, but resumed with online teaching afterwards.[39] Other school services remain open, but teaching is restricted to distant learning.[39]
  • Until April 6, holidays were extended in all secondary schools of Turkmenistan. An order signed by the Ministry of Education as a preventative measure aims to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases in connection with the WHO coronavirus pandemic.[40]

Country-wide school closures

Data on country-wide school closures, by country or territory[15]
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 [15]
Albania 520,759 131,833 Schools are closed for two weeks.[41][42] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Albania [15]
Algeria 9,492,542 743,640 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Algeria [15]
Argentina 11,061,186 3,140,963 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Argentina [15]
Armenia 437,612 102,891 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Armenia [15]
Austria 1,278,170 430,370 Schools are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Austria [15]
Azerbaijan 1,783,390 200,609 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Azerbaijan [15]
Bahrain 247,489 44,940 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Bahrain [15]
Bangladesh 36,786,304 3,150,539 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Bangladesh [15]
Belgium 2,457,738 526,720 Schools are closed but nurseries remain open.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Belgium [15]
Bolivia 2,612,837 --a 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Bolivia [15]
Bosnia and Herzegovina 428,099 95,142 Both schools and universities are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Bosnia and Herzegovina [15]
Bulgaria 974,469 249,937 Both schools and universities are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Bulgaria [15]
Burkina Faso 4,568,998 117,725 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Burkina Faso [15]
Cambodia 3,310,778 211,484 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Cambodia [15]
Cayman Islands 9,182 --a 2020 coronavirus pandemic in the Cayman Islands [15]
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.[43] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Chile [15]
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.[44] Following the Spring Festival holiday, China asked its nearly 200 million students to stay home and continue their educations online.[45] According to UNESCO, as of 13 March China has started reopening schools although the majority remain closed.[15] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in mainland China

2020 coronavirus pandemic in Hong Kong

2020 coronavirus pandemic in Macau

Colombia 9,124,862 2,408,041 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Colombia [15]
Costa Rica 1,100,782 216,700 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Costa Rica [15]
Côte d'Ivoire 6,120,918 217,914 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Ivory Coast [15]
Croatia 621,991 165,197 Both schools and universities are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Croatia [15]
Cyprus 135,354 45,263 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Cyprus [15]
Czech Republic 1,715,890 352,873 Both schools and universities are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Czech Republic [15]
Democratic People's Republic of Korea 4,229,170 526,400 2020 coronavirus pandemic in North Korea [15]
Denmark 1,185,564 312,379 Both schools and universities are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Denmark [15]
Ecuador 4,462,460 320,765 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Ecuador [15]
Egypt 23,157,420 2,914,473 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Egypt [15]
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.[46] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in El Salvador [15]
Equatorial Guinea 160,019 --a 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Equatorial Guinea [15]
Estonia 224,987 47,794 Schools are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Estonia [15]
Ethiopia 23,929,322 757,175 Ethiopia has closed all schools and issued a ban on all public gatherings.[47] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Ethiopia [15]
Fiji 421,329 32,565 All schools and universities have been closed indefinitely.[48] 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.[15] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Finland
France 12,929,509 2,532,831 Schools are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in France [15]
Gabon 468,362 10,076 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Gabon [15]
Georgia 732,451 151,226 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Georgia [15]
Germany 12,291,001 3,091,694 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Germany [15]
Ghana 9,253,063 443,693 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Ghana [15]
Greece 1,469,505 735,027 Both schools and universities are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Greece [15]
Grenada 26,028 9,260 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Grenada [15]
Guatemala 4,192,944 366,674 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Guatemala [15]
Honduras c 2,018,314 266,908 Honduras announced it would close schools for two weeks.[49] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Honduras [15]
Hungary 1,504,740 287,018 Both schools and universities are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Hungary [15]
Iceland 80,257 17,967 Schools are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Iceland [15]
Indonesia 60,228,569 8,037,218 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Indonesia [15]
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.[32] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Iran [15]
Iraq 7,010,788 424,908 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Iraq [15]
Ireland 1,064,091 255,031 Schools, colleges and childcare facilities are closed nationwide until at least 29 March.[41][50] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Ireland [15]
Israel 2,271,426 210,041 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Israel [15]
Italy 9,039,741 1,837,051 Italy closed all schools and universities until at least March 15.[44] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Italy [15]
Jamaica 552,619 74,537 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Jamaica [15]
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.[51][52] This decision came days after the education board of Hokkaido called for the temporary closure of its 1,600 public and private schools.[53] Nursery schools were excluded from the nationwide closure request.[51] 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.[54] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Japan [15]
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.[55] The minister of Education announced launching TV channels to broadcast lessons to high school students.[56] Private schools and universities announced their schedules of online listens using different channels. 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Jordan [15]
Kazakhstan 4,375,239 685,045 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Kazakhstan [15]
Kenya 13,751,830 562,521 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Kenya [15]
Kuwait 632,988 116,336 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Kuwait [15]
Kyrgyzstan 1,443,925 217,693 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Kyrgyzstan [15]
Latvia 313,868 82,914 Schools closed until the 14th of April.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Latvia [15]
Lebanon 1,132,178 231,215 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Lebanon [15]
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).[57] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Lesotho
Libya 1,510,198 375,028 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Libya [15]
Lithuania 460,257 125,863 Schools, nurseries and universities closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Lithuania [15]
Luxembourg 102,839 7,058 Schools are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Luxembourg [15]
Malaysia 6,677,157 1,284,876 Schools and universities are closed from 18 to 31 March.[58] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Malaysia [15]
Mauritania 928,218 19,371 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Mauritania [15]
Mexico 33,159,363 4,430,248 Several universities, including the UNAM and Tec de Monterrey, switched to virtual classes on March 13, 2020.[59] The following day, the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) announced that all sporting and civic events in schools would be cancelled.[60] 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.[61] The following day, 14 March, the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) announced that all sporting and civic events in schools would be cancelled.[60] 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.[62] 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.[63] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Mexico [15]
Mongolia 870,962 155,248 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Mongolia [15]
Montenegro 111,863 23,826 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Montenegro [15]
Morocco 7,886,899 1,056,257 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Morocco [15]
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 [15][64]
Netherlands 3,336,544 875,455 On March 12, all Dutch universities suspended physical teaching until 1 April, but online teaching will continue.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in the Netherlands [15]
North Macedonia 298,135 61,488 Both schools and nurseries are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in North Macedonia [15]
Norway 1,073,521 284,042 Schools are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Norway [15]
Pakistan 44,925,306 1,878,101 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Pakistan [15]
Palestine 1,404,021 222,336 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Palestine [15]
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.[46] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Panama [15]
Paraguay 1,519,678 225,211 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Paraguay [15]
Peru 8,015,606 1,895,907 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Peru [15]
Poland 6,003,285 1,550,203 Both schools and universities are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Poland [15]
Portugal 2,028,254 346,963 Both schools and universities are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Portugal [15]
Qatar 309,856 33,668 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Qatar [15]
Republic of Korea e 7,044,963 3,136,395 2020 coronavirus pandemic in South Korea [15]
Republic of Moldova 498,881 87,277 Both schools and universities are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Moldova [15]
Romania f 2,951,879 -- Schools are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Romania [15]
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.[65] 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.[66][65] Moscow's chief sanitary doctor signed a decree banning visitors to boarding schools and orphanages.[67] On 16 March, Moscow extended measures to closing public schools, universities, athletic schools and supplemental education institutions from 21 March to 12 April.[67][68] Quarantine in all Russian schools since March 23. [69] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Russia
Rwanda 3,388,696 75,713 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Rwanda [15]
Saint Lucia 30,925 2,237 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Saint Lucia [15]
Saudi Arabia 6,789,773 1,620,491 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Saudi Arabia [15]
Senegal 3,475,647 184,879 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Senegal [15]
Serbia 964,796 256,172 Schools are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Serbia [15]
Slovakia 832,055 156,048 Schools are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Slovakia [15]
Slovenia 332,677 79,547 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Slovenia [15]
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.[70] 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.[71] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in South Africa [15]
Spain 7,696,101 2,010,183 Schools are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Spain [15]
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.[72][73] The private tuition classes and tutorials are also closed for two weeks until 26 March.[74] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Sri Lanka [15]
Sudan 8,171,079 653,088 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Sudan [15]
Switzerland 1,289,219 300,618 Schools are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Switzerland [15]
Syrian Arab Republic 3,491,113 697,415 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Syria [15]
Thailand 12,990,728 2,410,713 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Thailand [15]
Trinidad and Tobago 260,439 16,751 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Trinidad and Tobago [15]
Tunisia 2,479,163 272,261 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Tunisia [15]
Turkey 17,702,938 7,198,987 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Turkey [15]
Ukraine 5,170,368 1,614,636 Schools are closed.[41] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Ukraine [15]
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.[75] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in the United Arab Emirates [15]
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 [76][77]
Uzbekistan 7,174,483 299,634 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Uzbekistan [15]
Venezuela 6,866,822 --a President Nicholas Maduro issued a "collective quarantine" in seven states in Venezuela and suspended school and university classes.[78] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Venezuela [15]
Yemen 5,852,325 267,498 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Yemen [15]
Zambia 3,955,937 56,680 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Zambia [15]
TOTAL 831,021,742 128,207,915 [15]
As of 17 March 2020
a^ Bolivia, Cayman Islands, Equatorial Guinea, Venezuela: data on enrolment in tertiary education programmes is not available.
b^ China: schools have started opening, but the majority remain closed.
c^ Honduras: While all schools are open, universities have the choice to remain open or not.
d^ Japan: Universities currently on school spring break, and hence closures not related to the coronavirus.
e^ Republic of Korea: Universities have postponed the beginning of the academic year by two weeks to 16 March.
f^ Romania: Most universities remain open.

Localised school closures

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.[15]

Country Region/s See also Ref
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.[79]

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.[80] Many universities closed temporarily and transitioned to online learning.[81]

2020 coronavirus pandemic in Australia
Bhutan Districts of Thimphu, Paro and Punakha 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Bhutan [15]
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.[78][46] 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.[15]

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.[82] [83][84] Minas Gerais state initially cancelled classes for public schools between for only three days[85] 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.[86]

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.[83]

Regarding the food safety of students, some municipal and state schools announced "food kits" for weekly pickup such as in Recife[87] or that some selected schools would remain open for students to have lunch, such as in Espírito Santo.[88]

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.[89] On 11 March, one student of USP was confirmed with the disease, leading one department to cancel classes for a single day,[90] and it wasn't until 17 March that the whole university cancelled classes.[91] Many universities across the country cancelled classes, such as UFV (since 16 March)[92] and UNILA (since 17 March),[93] 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.[94]

2020 coronavirus pandemic in Brazil [15]
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.[95] 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 [96][97][98] The University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and the Emily Carr College of Art transitioned to online classes on March 16,[99] and on March 17, K-12 schools in British Columbia were suspended indefinitely.[100] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Canada [15]
India On 16 March, India declared a countrywide lock-down of schools and colleges.[101] 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.[102] 2020 coronavirus pandemic in India [15]
Philippines Metropolitan Manila, Manila City, Central Luzon, IIocos Region, Bulacan Province, Cavite Province, Rizal Province, Capas, and Tarlac 2020 coronavirus pandemic in the Philippines [15]
Sweden Schools have remained open.[41] 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.[103] 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.[104]

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.[105]

The government of Guam shut down for 14 days, including all schools, starting on March 16,[106] one day after reporting its first three cases of COVID-19.[107]

2020 coronavirus pandemic in the United States [108]
Uruguay As of 14 March, Uruguay will only close schools in case of registered cases of coronavirus among students.[43]

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.[109]

2020 coronavirus pandemic in Uruguay [15]
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 [15]

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.

Consequences of school closures

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.[15] 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.[15][110][111] As of 29 March, nearly 90% of the world's learners were impacted by closures.[15]

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.[15][112] 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.[2] Localised school closures place burdens on schools as parents and officials redirect children to schools that are open.[2]

Unintended strain on health-care system

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.[2]

Distance learning

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.[2] 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.[113]

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.[105] 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.[35] 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.[2]

Nutrition and food insecurity

Sign advertising a free breakfast and lunch program for children during widespread school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

Many children worldwide rely on free or discounted meals at schools.[35] When schools close, nutrition is compromised.[15]

Nutrition plays a critical role in cognitive development and academic performance for children.[114]

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.[115]

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.[116]

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.[117]

Student learning outcomes

School closures negatively impact student learning outcomes.[2] 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.[113]

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.[35][2]

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.[2]

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.[2]

Special education services

Potential impacts of school closures and reliance on distance learning are not addressed in federal acts[where?] of legislation at this time[when?].[115][118]

Impact on formal education

An electronic sign announces public school closures due to COVID-19 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, USA

Formal education — as opposed to informal education or non-formal education — tends to refer to schools, colleges, universities and training institutions.[119][120] 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.[119]

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.[121] 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].[121]

Early childhood education

Playground at a Seattle elementary school is closed due to the epidemic on 25 March

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.[122] 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.[citation needed]

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.[123] 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.[124][125] 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.”[125] 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.[126]

In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe closed all schools throughout the country until April 8, however, children's daycare facilities were excluded.[127] 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.[128]


Primary or elementary education typically consists of the first four to seven years of formal education.

An empty classroom in closed elementary school due to COVID-19 in Kikinda, Serbia


A sign on a closed local school because of the coronavirus

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."[129]

Tertiary (higher)

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.[130]

Undergraduate education

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.[130] 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."[citation needed]

The closure of colleges and universities has widespread implications for students, faculty, administrators, and the institutions themselves.

Colleges and universities across the United States have been called upon to issue refunds to students for the cost of tuition and room and board.[131][132]

Impact on graduation ceremonies
Impact on local economies

In the United States of America, Colleges and universities operate as "mini-cities" which generate significant revenue for cities, states, and regions.[133] For example, Princeton University contributed $1.58 billion USD to the New Jersey economy and students spent about $60 million in off-campus spending.[133] College and university closures have a domino effect on economies with far-reaching implications.[3]

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."[133]

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.[131] 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."[134]

Recommended alternatives

UNESCO is sharing 10 recommendations during this period:

  1. Examine the readiness and choose the most relevant tools: Decide on the use high-technology and low-technology solutions based on the reliability of local power supplies, internet connectivity, and digital skills of teachers and students. This could range through integrated digital learning platforms, video lessons, MOOCs, to broadcasting through radios and TVs.
  2. Ensure inclusion of the distance learning programmes: Implement measures to ensure that students including those with disabilities or from low-income backgrounds have access to distance learning programmes, if only a limited number of them have access to digital devices. Consider temporarily decentralising such devices from computer labs to families and support them with internet connectivity.
  3. Protect data privacy and data security: Assess data security when uploading data or educational resources to web spaces, as well as when sharing them with other organisations or individuals. Ensure that the use of applications and platforms does not violate students’ data privacy.
  4. Prioritize solutions to address psychosocial challenges before teaching: Mobilize available tools to connect schools, parents, teachers, and students with each other. Create communities to ensure regular human interactions, enable social caring measures, and address possible psychosocial challenges that students may face when they are isolated.
  5. Plan the study schedule of the distance learning programmes: Organise discussions with stakeholders to examine the possible duration of school closures and decide whether the distance learning programme should focus on teaching new knowledge or enhance students’ knowledge of prior lessons. Plan the schedule depending on the situation of the affected zones, level of studies, needs of students needs, and availability of parents. Choose the appropriate learning methodologies based on the status of school closures and home-based quarantines. Avoid learning methodologies that require face-to-face communication.
  6. Provide support to teachers and parents on the use of digital tools: Organise brief training or orientation sessions for teachers and parents as well, if monitoring and facilitation are needed. Help teachers to prepare the basic settings such as solutions to the use of internet data if they are required to provide live streaming of lessons.
  7. Blend appropriate approaches and limit the number of applications and platforms: Blend tools or media that are available for most students, both for synchronous communication and lessons, and for asynchronous learning. Avoid overloading students and parents by asking them to download and test too many applications or platforms.
  8. Develop distance learning rules and monitor students’ learning process: Define the rules with parents and students on distance learning. Design formative questions, tests, or exercises to monitor closely students’ learning process. Try to use tools to support submission of students’ feedback and avoid overloading parents by requesting them to scan and send students’ feedback
  9. Define the duration of distance learning units based on students’ self-regulation skills: Keep a coherent timing according to the level of the students’ self-regulation and metacognitive abilities especially for livestreaming classes. Preferably, the unit for primary school students should not be more than 20 minutes, and no longer than 40 minutes for secondary school students.
  10. Create communities and enhance connection: Create communities of teachers, parents, and school managers to address sense of loneliness or helplessness, facilitate sharing of experience and discussion on coping strategies when facing learning difficulties.[135]

See also


Definition of Free Cultural Works logo notext.svg 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. To learn how to add open license text to Wikipedia articles, please see this how-to page. For information on reusing text from Wikipedia, please see the terms of use.

Definition of Free Cultural Works logo notext.svg This article incorporates text from a free content work. COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, UNESCO. To learn how to add open license text to Wikipedia articles, please see this how-to page. For information on reusing text from Wikipedia, please see the terms of use.

Definition of Free Cultural Works logo notext.svg This article incorporates text from a free content work. How to plan distance learning solutions during temporary schools closures, UNESCO. To learn how to add open license text to Wikipedia articles, please see this how-to page. For information on reusing text from Wikipedia, please see the terms of use.

Definition of Free Cultural Works logo notext.svg This article incorporates text from a free content work. Adverse consequences of school closures, UNESCO. To learn how to add open license text to Wikipedia articles, please see this how-to page. For information on reusing text from Wikipedia, please see the terms of use.


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