Children have been the lowest risk group affected by Covid-19, but have arguably suffered the most from Covid-19 policies imposed on them by hysterical adults. A recent join report by the World Bank, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), presents shocking data on the extent of the loss of learning suffered by children around the world over the past two years due to school closures.
In March 2020, as the virus spread around the world, fear and uncertainty led many governments to close schools to “slow the spread”. Only a few countries, including Taiwan, Nicaragua and Sweden, have decided not to close their schools. In April, UNESCO estimated that approximately 1.5 billion children around the world have been forced to stay home due to school closures and their regular education interrupted.
Some learned remotely from home, but children from disadvantaged backgrounds often did not learn much online due to home instability, low quality of online learning compared to teaching in person, the lack of a computer, the lack of a stable internet connection, the lack of electricity and the lack of support from caregivers.
It didn’t take long for scientists to realize that children are a lot less likely than adults to be injured by Covid-19. As school closures stretched from weeks to months, many parents and educators expressed concern that remote learning had failed to provide children with the educational experience they needed.
Young children and children with disabilities particularly struggled with online learning, as these classes were often hastily arranged without considering their unique needs. Prolonged school closures have also affected children’s mental health and exacerbated other social problems, including subjecting some children to physical or sexual abuse.
In June 2020, there was enough data to show that school closures were causing more harm than good. Thus, around twenty countries, including Denmark, Finland and France, have reopened their schools. But many countries, including the United States, have kept schools closed, despite data recommending otherwise.
According to this seal report according to the World Bank, UNESCO and UNICEF, total and partial school closures lasted an average of 224 days worldwide. We now see how significant learning loss is, especially for younger and more marginalized children.
Students in São Paulo, Brazil, “learned only 28% of what they would have learned in face-to-face classes, and the risk of dropping out more than tripled.” In rural Karnataka, India, “the share of third-grade students in public schools who can perform simple subtraction fell from 24% in 2018 to just 16% in 2020.”
Even in a developed country like the United States, young people face devastating learning loss. Research by Amplify, a curriculum and assessment company, shows: “In kindergarten, the percentage of students most at risk of not learning to read fell from 29% in the middle of 2019-2020 to 37 % in the middle of 2021-22.”
School closures have also widened educational achievement gaps between racial groups. The same research shows that in reading, about “48% of black first-graders lag far behind and 43% of Hispanic first-graders, compared to 27% of white first-graders.”
Students in the upper grades did not fare much better. NWEA, a non-profit testing company, reported that median students in grades 3 to 8 were behind 9 to 11 percentiles in math and 3 to 7 percentiles in reading. This valued that “a 9 to 11 percentile point decline in math scores (if allowed to become permanent) would represent a loss of $43,800 in lifetime expected earnings. Spread over the 50 million public school students currently enrolled in K-12, that would be more than $2 trillion.
In addition to learning loss, the joint report highlights that school closures over the past two years have put the health and safety of children at risk. Nearly 400 million children around the world missed school meals during the lockdowns, which were the only reliable source of daily food and nutrition for many. Prolonged school closures also put “an estimated 10 million more girls at risk of child marriage over the next decade and increased risk of dropping out of school”.
The report concludes that reopening schools should be every country’s “top priority” because “the cost of closing schools is high and threatens to cripple a generation of children and young people while widening pre-pandemic disparities “. It recommends that countries adopt learning recovery programs with mixed techniques, including extended teaching time and targeted instruction.
Even though there is compelling evidence of the harm suffered by children due to prolonged school closures, teachers‘ unions in the United States continue to prioritize their own interests over children. Earlier this year, the Chicago Teachers Union vote to halt in-person instruction and shut down the nation’s third-largest school district.
This month alone, classes at public schools in Minneapolis were canceled and about 31,000 students were stuck at home when the teachers union went on strike. The union demanded a pay rise and more mental health support for students, but said nothing about student learning loss.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief architect of many ruinous US restrictions, recently notified that Americans must be prepared to revert to Covid-19 lockdowns if there is a surge of the “Stealth Omicron” sub-variant. Teachers’ unions are using any hike as an excuse to keep schools closed.
American parents and other concerned citizens must stand up to teachers’ unions, union-backed Democratic politicians and unelected public health officials like Fauci. We need to let them know that we will never go back to failed Covid-19 restrictions, and we can never again close schools as we have done for the past two years. The children have suffered enough.