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COVID-19 ISO Insights

The Devastating Impacts of Covid-19 on Education

April 11, 2022

By Travis Decaminada

Key Takeaway: Per reports, not only did many children lose caretakers to Covid-19, but their education also suffered. New research suggests that overall learning has decreased dramatically over the past two years, and so too has educational attainment. The economic impact of this loss of schooling could reach nearly $17 trillion over the next several years and catalyze other potentially negative externalities.

Per a recent article from NPR, in addition to a myriad of other devastating effects, Covid-19 has also significantly impacted schools around the world. Reportedly, nearly 90% of all children had their education disrupted to some extent since 2021, oftentimes leading to negative consequences; notwithstanding children coping with the loss of a parent or guardian.

Per NPR, not only did Covid-19 cause an overall decline in learning, but the pandemic was also correlated with an increase in the number of kids dropping out of school as well as a decrease in college applications. Perhaps unsurprisingly, children from socioeconomically disadvantaged groups are among those most harmed by the situation.

Overall Impacts

According to NPR, the latest research into the subject found that in-person education was linked with increased learning; whereas the more time a student was required to take online courses, the more they fell behind their peers. Reportedly, one study found that reading comprehension skills had fallen to a twenty-year low. From the article:

All the data we have to date shows students falling behind where they would have been without the interruption. As predicted, these gaps are consistently bigger for low-income, Black and Latino children. This study from November found these gaps were bigger at schools that had less in-person learning in the 2020-2021 school year.

Moreover, it may take years for some students to catch up to their peers. For example, in Louisiana, after schools were closed for several months following Hurricane Katrina, it took two full years for student learning to recover. Per the article, the impact from Covid-19 related closures may be even more severe.

Overall educational attainment has also suffered over the past two years. Per reports, while reduced graduation requirements helped some students in 2020, the most recent data from 2021 shows that graduation rates are trending down. Further, college enrollment is also decreasing, with more than one million fewer students than average matriculating over the past two years.

The article also details how Covid-19 led to increased “toxic stress” among kids. School closures likely resulted in many children losing out on food, safety, and relationships. In other cases, some students report dropping out of school because they needed to work full-time to help support their family. Ultimately, the U.S. Surgeon General has called the mental health impacts of Covid-19 on children a “crisis” and an “emergency”.

NPR notes that the global economic cost of Covid-19’s effect on education could total nearly $17 Trillion in the coming years.

See Also:

Information for families and children about Covid-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Further Covid-19 resources for schools, students, and families from the U.S. Department of Education. 

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