May 9, 2021

Twenty-two countries have shut schools nationwide, 372.3 million children

COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response, shut down schools
COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response

Twenty-two countries have shut schools nationwide, 372.3 million children

A record number of children and youth are not attending school or university because of temporary or indefinite closures mandated by governments in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19(link is external). As of 11 March, 39 countries in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North America and South America have announced or implemented school and university closures. UNESCO is providing immediate support to countries, including solutions for inclusive distance learning.

Twenty-two countries have shut school nationwide, impacting almost 372.3 million children and youth. A further seventeen countries have implemented localized school closures to prevent or contain the spread of COVID-19.

Should these countries also order nationwide school and university closures, it would disrupt the education of more than 500 million additional children and youth. Countries affected by COVID-19 are putting in place national responses in the form of learning platforms and other tools. A selection of country responses is available here.

List of US schools:

Country-wide school closures

Total number of countries: 22

Total number of learners affected: 372,329,457

 Number of learners enrolled
from pre-primary to upper-
secondary education
Number of learners enrolled
in tertiary education
China* (including Hong Kong and Macao)233,169,62142,266,464
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea4,229,170526,400
Georgia          732,451151,226
Iran (Islamic Republic of)14,561,9984,073,827
Kuwait          632,988116,336
North Macedonia298,13561,488
Republic of Korea***       7,044,9633,136,395
Saudi Arabia6,789,7731,620,491
United Arab Emirates1,170,565191,794
TOTAL313,698,707 58,630,751

more news:

Localized school closures

Total number of countries: 17 countries

Total number of learners potentially at risk (pre-primary to upper-secondary education): : 501,687,733 
Total number of learners potentially at risk (tertiary education): 74,862,712
AfghanistanProvince of Herat
BhutanDistricts of Thimphu, Paro and Punakha
Bosnia and Herzegovina Republika Srpska entity
CambodiaProvince of Siem Reap: Siem Reap city
FranceDepartments of l’Oise and Haut-Rhin, Corsica and some selected schools in other cities
GermanySelected schools in the States of Bavaria, Nordhein-Westfalen, Baden-Württemberg and Niedersachsen, as well as small number of closures in selected cities
IndiaDelhi-National Capital Region, State of Jammu: Jammu and Samba districts; State of Kerala: Pathanamthitta and Kottayam districts
PakistanSouthern province of Sindh
PalestineWest Bank
PhilippinesMetropolitan Manila, Manila City, Central Luzon, IIocos Region, Bulacan Province, Cavite Province, Rizal Province, Capas, and Tarlac
PortugalAll schools in municipalities of Felgueiras and Lousada; and select primary and secondary schools, nursery schools and universities in the cities of Porto, Amadora, Lisbon, Alverca, Braga, and Idães, Portimao
SlovakiaSelected schools in the regions of Bratislava, Košice Self-Governing, Trnava, Trenčín Self-Governing; and in several other towns across Slovakia
SpainSchools in Madrid and some cities in the Basque country
UkraineRegion of Chernivtsi Oblast and the capital city Kiev
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandSelected schools in the cities of Tetbury, Northwich, Middlesbrough, and Brixham
United States of AmericaSelected schools in the States of California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont and Washington
Viet NamAll 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.

Adverse consequences of school closures

School closures – even when temporary – carry high social and economic costs. The disruptions they cause touch people across communities, but their impact is particularly severe for disadvantaged boys and girls and their families.

Some of the reasons why school closures are so harmful are listed below. While the list is far from comprehensive, it helps clarify why school closures should matter to all of us.

  • Interrupted learning: 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.
  • Nutrition: Many children and youth rely on free or discounted meals provided at schools for food and healthy nutrition. When schools close nutrition is comprised.
  • Parents unprepared for distance and home schooling: 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.
  • Unequal access to digital learning portals: Lack of access to technology or good internet connectivity is an obstacle to continued learning, especially for students from disadvantaged families.
  • Gaps in childcare: In the absence of alternative options, working parents often leave children alone when schools close and this can lead to risky behaviors, including increased influence of peer pressure and substance abuse.
  • High economic costs: 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.
  • 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.
  • Increased pressure on schools and school systems that remain open: Localized school closures place burdens on schools as parents and officials redirect children to schools that are open.
  • Dropout rates tend to rise: It is a challenge to ensure children and youth return and stay in school when schools reopen after closures. This is especially true of protracted closures.
  • Social isolation: 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.

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