This interactive infographic tells the evolving story of the impact of COVID-19 on the world's school systems.

Updated daily, this infographic aims to support education decision-makers by shedding light on patterns observed in the response to COVID-19.

Contents:

Globe icon

THE BIG PICTURE TODAY:
LEARNING LOSS DUE TO COVID-19

265 million

children out of school in 27 closed countries today.

894 million

children in 39 partially open countries today.

200 billion

days of disrupted learning in closed schools since February 2020.

Click on a country to see detailed information

School status:  Open   Partially open   Closed   Vacation   Unknown  
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MARCH 2020 - RAPID, PROACTIVE CLOSURE WAS THE POLICY RESPONSE TO A POORLY UNDERSTOOD THREAT

School status over time

98% of countries have implemented full or partial closures due to COVID-19



11 March 2020: The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a COVID-19 pandemic.

84% of countries closed (fully or partially) their school systems by 31st March 2020.

Policy makers lacked practical knowledge and evidence about COVID-19 or experience of managing a pandemic. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was in short supply, medical systems had inadequate capacity, and testing was insufficient to understand the true level of infection.

37% of countries closed proactively when the total infection level was still below 0.1 in every 100,000 of population. School closures spread much more rapidly than the virus itself.

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SCHOOLS CLOSED QUICKLY BUT REOPENING IS TAKING MUCH LONGER

Global school status

As of today, 356 days after the first closure, 89 (48%) out of the 185 countries analysed have fully reopened



Some countries have never fully closed their schools, utilising instead regional or partial closures. These include Australia, Belarus, Burundi, Iceland, Nicaragua, Russian Federation, Seychelles, Tajikistan, and United States.

So far, 86 countries that have reopened have stayed open, avoiding any second national closures.

But, 32 countries have implemented additional closures after attempting to reopen fully or partially:

 

━━ New daily cases per 100,000 of population, 7 day rolling average
School status:  Open   Partially open   Closed   Vacation   Unknown  
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LEARNING DISPARITIES ARE GROWING, ESPECIALLY FOR THE DISADVANTAGED

Disrupted days by country income level

Students in low and middle income countries have experienced the greatest disruption to their education



While school closure was a global event, the impact has not been equally felt.

The averages conceal significant variation between the number of days out of school experienced by children in different countries.

Countries with the highest disruption:

CountryDays
closed
Income
Panama295High income
El Salvador272Lower middle income
Bolivia270Lower middle income
Costa Rica263Upper middle income
Sudan259Lower middle income
Iraq254Upper middle income
Guatemala240Upper middle income
Myanmar239Lower middle income
Ecuador236Upper middle income
Kuwait236High income

Countries with the least disruption:

CountryDays
closed
Income
Sweden13High income
Madagascar18Low income
New Zealand18High income
Japan24High income
Uruguay26High income
Singapore27High income
Benin29Low income
Denmark33High income
Germany33High income
Norway34High income

Students by school status and income level

The largest number of students in closed school systems are in countries.



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LESSONS CAN BE LEARNED FROM COUNTRIES EXPERIENCES OF HANDLING COVID-19 IN THE CLASSROOM

Infection level on closure and reopening by country

Countries are tolerating a much higher level of new infections when reopening, compared to the level at which they first closed



Insights for Education has built up a picture of some of the key policy responses that are supporting reopening decisions. These include:

  • Improved testing and, increasingly, the prioritisation of testing for teachers and students.
  • PPE and distancing, with a majority of countries requiring teachers to wear masks.
  • Transparency: that is building trust among the educator and learner/parent communities.

It appears that these (and potentially other) changes may be assisting school systems to remain open at much higher levels of infection than was tolerated when they first closed.

  • Countries initially closed while reporting new daily infection levels at between 0 and 3.1 cases per 100,000 of population.
  • Meanwhile, cases on reopening have reached as high as 20.6 (in Brazil) per 100,000 of population.

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IN SUBSEQUENT WAVES,
THE POLICY RESPONSE IS CHANGING

Epidemiologists predict that countries will experience multiple waves of COVID-19 infection.

97 countries have experienced multiple waves and, unlike in the first wave, many countries have kept their school systems open.

(Note: sometimes, the greater size of secondary waves makes the first wave invisible on the scale of these charts.)

 

━━ New daily cases per 100,000 of population, 7 day rolling average
School status:  Open   Partially open   Closed   Vacation   Unknown  
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THE IMPACT IS LARGEST IN COUNTRIES EXPERIENCING AN EXTENDED FIRST WAVE OF INFECTION

Many of the countries still experiencing a first wave of infection were among the first to close back in March, acting proactively.

179 days is the average closure period for these countries. It is increasing every day.

21 countries are in a first wave and either closed or only partially open.

47% of these countries are lower middle or low income and collectively they are responsible for the education of 706.9 million students.

15 of these countries have more than 10% of their schools lacking basic water facilities. Hand washing is harder without clean running water.

28:1 is their average student to teacher ratio, compared with 13:1 in high income countries. Larger classes and fewer teachers make it harder to open safely.

 

━━ New daily cases per 100,000 of population, 7 day rolling average
School status:  Open   Partially open   Closed   Vacation   Unknown  
COVID-19 icon

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SCHOOL STATUS AND COVID-19 INFECTION LEVELS IS COMPLEX

Our work does not attempt to establish correlation or causality between school status and COVID-19 infection levels. The three examples below have been chosen to illustrate the complexity in making simplistic assumptions about the impact of school closure and opening on virus progression.

What we have observed is many different patterns, most probably reflecting multiple factors including state of economic activity, testing, tracing, and health system capacity. Schools are just one aspect of the policy response to managing COVID-19. School closures have implications for wider society and vice versa.

The Gambia saw continued decline once schools opened after a vacation:

━━ New daily cases per 100,000 of population, 7 day rolling average
School status:  Open   Partially open   Closed   Vacation   Unknown  

France experienced growth in infections while schools were closed during scheduled vacations:

━━ New daily cases per 100,000 of population, 7 day rolling average
School status:  Open   Partially open   Closed   Vacation   Unknown  

And Finland saw little change in infection levels during vacation, followed by a rise after schools reopened:

━━ New daily cases per 100,000 of population, 7 day rolling average
School status:  Open   Partially open   Closed   Vacation   Unknown  

Slowly but steadily, education systems are learning how to live with COVID-19. But the story is far from complete. The numbers in this infographic are updated daily. Check-back again in future weeks as we add more to this evolving storyline.

Rigorous and careful monitoring of experiences from all countries – those who have reopened once or more, and those that remain closed – offer a deeply valuable and growing fact base in which to anchor future decisions.

 

 


 

 

ABOUT THIS INFOGRAPHIC

Insights for Education is a non-profit independent foundation founded in 2019 working to advance evidence and improve education for every child.

Our mission is to build resources for education leaders to reach each child, by synthesising and translating an inclusive range of evidence. We aim to be benevolent disruptors and bridge-builders in the education system.

More information on this work can be found in our FAQ. We welcome feedback, suggestions and corrections. Please use our contact form.

© 2021 Insights for Education
Data as of 17 January 2021.

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Notes:

  • This data does not demonstrate causality between school closure/opening decisions, timing and/or infection levels. Care should be taken in drawing conclusions from any patterns observed.
  • Some countries devolve decision making and there can be significant variation within parts of a country or even between schools.
  • Our thanks to Our World in Data for COVID-19 daily infection data, UNESCO for school status and enrolment data and the World Bank for country data. Statistics and charts in this infographic are updated daily when available. Our analysis covers 185 countries.
  • Where we mention COVID-19 infection levels, unless explicitly stated, we always refer to the number of new cases reported each day, expressed per 100,000 of population, and averaged over 7 days. This measurement unit may differ from other information sources you use.
  • We calculate the number of ‘disrupted’ school days by multiplying, for each country, the total student enrolment by the number of days when the school system was closed.