The story of

COVID-19 and SCHOOLS

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 DISRUPTION DUE TO COVID-19

123 million

children out of school in 16 closed countries today.

772 million

children in 43 partially open countries today.

241 billion

closed days of school since January 2020.

 

CLICK ON A MAP COUNTRY TO SEE DETAILED INFORMATION ▶

Padlock icon

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.

41% 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.

Book icon

SCHOOLS CLOSED QUICKLY BUT REOPENING IS TAKING MUCH LONGER

Global school status

As of 26 September, 608 days after the first closure, 116 (57%) out of the 202 countries analysed are fully open



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

So far, 63 countries that have reopened have stayed open, avoiding any second national closures.

But, 112 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  
Scales icon

LEARNING DISRUPTION IS IMPACTING COUNTRIES UNEVENLY

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

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

Countries with the highest disruption:

CountryIncomeClosed days
BangladeshLower middle income473
Venezuela, RBUpper middle income450
HondurasLower middle income441
MyanmarLower middle income398
PanamaHigh income386
KuwaitHigh income382
MexicoUpper middle income374
UgandaLow income371
IraqUpper middle income356
PhilippinesLower middle income354
Sri LankaUpper middle income348
Saudi ArabiaHigh income334
JordanUpper middle income323
El SalvadorLower middle income320
Costa RicaUpper middle income303

Countries with the least disruption:

CountryIncomeClosed days
SwedenHigh income14
JapanHigh income24
BeninLow income29
NorwayHigh income34
SingaporeHigh income39
MadagascarLow income41
SwitzerlandHigh income41
Papua New GuineaLower middle income42
Cote d'IvoireLower middle income46
VietnamLower middle income48
GermanyHigh income54
DenmarkHigh income55
CameroonLower middle income56
CroatiaHigh income56
OmanHigh income56

Disrupted days by country income level

Students in low and middle income countries have experienced more closed days compared to high income countries



Students by school status and income level

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



School status by region

There are significant regional differences in the proportion of countries with open schools



Presentation icon

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



Education.org 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 47.8 (in Sweden) per 100,000 of population.

Graph icon

IN SUBSEQUENT WAVES,
THE POLICY RESPONSE IS CHANGING

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

139 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  
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.

Switzerland saw declining levels of new infections while keeping schools open:

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

Costa Rica saw infection levels rise and fall again while schools were closed or on vacation. Recently, they have risen sharply while schools are partially open.

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

And Ghana saw infection levels rise then fall again as schools fully reopened:

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

Policy dilemma icon

A TRADE-OFF BETWEEN KEEPING SCHOOLS OPEN, PROTECTING HEALTH AND PROTECTING THE ECONOMY IS NOT INEVITABLE

After many months and multiple waves, a sub-analysis of 111 countries shows that a trade-off between keeping schools open, protecting health, and protecting the economy is not inevitable. 8 countries have shown that it is possible to balance all three policy goals.

Countries faring better, especially those with least learning disruption, opened as the first wave of infection ended and prior to the second starting. Typically, there was clear political prioritisation and broad community engagement for getting children back to school.

The greatest number of days of disrupted learning has been seen in countries experiencing prolonged waves of infection, or waves building on top of one another. Sometimes, these same countries prioritised the economy over education and/or suffered from weak community support for returning to school.

While it is surely not yet possible to declare certain choices “right” or “wrong”, studying these patterns are essential for providing policy leaders with the best available information for deliberations around choices and trade-offs.

CLICK ON A COUNTRY BUBBLE TO SEE DETAILED INFORMATION ▶
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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

Education.org is an independent non-profit foundation working to advance evidence and improve education for every child. Its mission is to build resources for education leaders by synthesising and translating an inclusive range of evidence, and to enable these resources to be used by those who make education happen by building bridges across knowledge actors, policy makers and practitioners.

Established in 2019 and registered in Zurich, Switzerland, the foundation is supported by a visionary co-investor collective and is growing partnerships across governments, agencies, NGOs, universities, businesses and foundations in Africa, Middle East, Europe, and North America.

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

© 2021 Education.org
Data as of 26 September 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 covering pre-primary, primary, and secondary levels; World Bank for country data; and www.theglobaleconomy.com for GDP data.
  • Statistics and charts in this infographic are updated daily when available. Our analysis covers 202 countries except for the sub-analysis in the last section, which covers 111 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 'closed days of school' by multiplying, for each country, the total student enrolment by the number of days when the school system was closed.
  • Our thanks to PressReader for the distribution of Content from Publishers, licensed by publishers or copyright holders to PressReader in return for a fee.