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Two years ago this month, schools closed their doors in 185 countries. According to UNESCO9 out of 10 school children worldwide did not go to school. It would soon be the biggest, longest interruption in schooling, since formal education became the norm in the richer countries in the late 19th century.
By time, I talked to several experts in the field of research known as “emergency education.” They gave their predictions for the long-term consequences of school closures in the United States based on research into past school interruptions caused by war, refugee crises, natural disasters, and past epidemics.
Two years later, the schools are open and the masks are taking off in most places, restoring a sense of normalcy.
So how have these predictions unfolded? Let’s see.
Prediction: Students’ learning will suffer. Vulnerable and marginalized students will be hardest hit.
IN USA, compared to rich countries in Western Europe and East Asia, schools were typically closed longer. ONE majority of black, Latin American, and Asian students remained distant until early 2021. In the autumn of 2020, registration droppedrun by families sitting out pre-K and kindergarten.
All that data we have to date shows students who are behind where they would have been without the interruption. As predicted, these gaps are consistently larger for low-income children, blacks and Latino children. This study from November found that these gaps were larger at schools that had less personal learning in the 2020-2021 school year.
In New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, schools were closed for a few months, and student learning returned to its former course after two full school years – and then improved from there. Post-COVID recovery could take even longer.
Prediction: An increase in the drop-out rate for colleges and a decrease in enrollment in universities.
Rating: GREATEST TRUE
For the class in 2020, the districts relaxed the graduation requirements, and students graduated in similar or even improved numbers compared to previous years. For 2021, it was a different story. Data are incomplete, however Chalkbeat reported recently, the graduation of colleges was declining in most states for which they had data. And it has district superintendents told NPR they lack older students who have switched schooling to paid work.
Federal data, meanwhile, shows that enrollment in college has dropped by more than 1 million students over the past two years. This is an international phenomenon which could reduce earnings around the world by a total of $ 17 trillion if not addressed, the UN predicts.
Prediction: Children are at risk of toxic stress when schools close.
Schools provide food, security, relationships, stability and hope to most children around the world. Conversely, school closures tend to take place in the context of massive social upheavals. The pandemic was no exception. At least 175,000 children were left or orphaned in the United States
School and childcare closures drove mothers out of the workforce, increasing stress on them and creating financial insecurity for children. Public assistance, such as extended child tax deduction and school meals, has been inconsistent.
US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and the country’s pediatricians call young people’s mental health a “crisis” and one “emergency.” In October 2021, told teachers pollsters that children’s mental health was their biggest concern. Eighty percent of parents in a recent poll are concerned about the well-being of their own children.
As a bright spot, now that things are reopening, 97% of schools in a federal survey say they are taking new steps to support student well-being.
Prediction: School systems are sometimes completely reshaped.
Verdict: The jury is still out.
Crisis can bring reinvention. In New Orleans, after Katrina in 2005, public schools were completely replaced by one controversial “portfolio district” of charter schools. School performance was improved measured by test results, but at the time of the COVID shutdown, the city was still located below state average. After Hurricane Maria in 2017, Puerto Rico passed a law that reorganized the school system and created charters and voucher programs. Serious learning disruptions and the influences continue.
In 2022, in the United States, we hear a lot more about recovery end reform. But one apparent increase in homeschooling combined with a persistent decrease in registration in metropolitan school districts could indicate that parents are looking for alternatives – or creating them.