This research brief is one of a series exploring the effects of COVID-19 on education. It focuses on how school closures affect children and the resiliency of education systems to respond to such disruptions and mitigate their effects.1
Unexpected school closures are shown to negatively influence children’s learning outcomes. Whether and to what extent students may make up the learning losses varies over time. Some factors may include closure duration, quality of education before and after closure, proximity of the closure to a child’s schooling transition, and whether the child experienced a traumatic event.
Beyond the negative consequences on learning, school closures expose students to additional risks. Hundreds of millions of children rely on schools for free or low-price meals throughout the year. At the same time, school closures can expose children to violence (including sexual violence and forced marriage) at home and in their communities.
Children’s need for psychosocial support also increases.
As it is likely the world will face more crises forcing schools to close, strengthening the resilience of education systems is a priority to mitigate the damage school closures have on children’s learning and well-being. Countries must build capacity to deliver quality education remotely, using a blended approach (with increased capacity of teachers) and targeting vulnerable and marginalized children who are often forgotten.