The Effects of COVID-19 School Closures Will Last a Lifetime – Especially for Children in Need
Today, 55 million children in America are affected by COVID-19 related school closures. And globally, that number is over 1.5 billion – 90% of students around the world.
For many kids, one of the effects of COVID-19, means moving classes online, and a teacher’s guidance via a video camera – which is already tough enough. But for millions of students right here in the US, and many millions more across the world, being out of school sacrifices not only their access to quality education, but consistent meals, a safe place to be and opportunities for economic mobility and advancement. The impacts of being out of school now for these children may last a lifetime.
Education is widely recognized as the key intervention that can break the cycle of poverty and provide new opportunities for the most marginalized children. If kids miss out on precious days of school, they may never catch up. This is especially true for low-income families who may have less means to help them make up what they have missed, further widening the gap between children living in poverty and their more affluent peers.
And it’s not only school closures that impact the opportunities of children who are living in poverty. Many other programs that support children’s development and future paths have also been suspended, including early childhood education, after-school programs, social and emotional support programs, and enrichment and leadership training that helps young people escape violence and crime.
So, what is being done to support the most vulnerable children during this critical time, and how can you help?
Learning while apart
In the US, an estimated 12 million children across the country don’t have access to the internet at home. Others may not have a home at all. And in many school districts, especially those that are systemically underfunded and serving low-income communities, they lack the resources needed to get kids connected to remote learning quickly and effectively – at a time when every day matters.
Internationally, for children in countries with more limited infrastructure, children simply may not have any alternative access to their teacher or lessons. Tragically, in communities where access to education is not guaranteed, some children – like those served by Red Nose Day partners Laureus Sport for Good, the International Rescue Committee and Room to Read – may never even get the chance to return to school and other life-changing programs after the disruption. Children may end up having to work instead of attending school in order to support their family's most immediate needs, and others may get caught up in violence and conflict. The Coronavirus does not pick its victims, but young women and girls will be disproportionately affected: without an education, girls are more likely not return to school, and are at increased risk of child marriage.
Right now, helping children to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 is imperative. The ability to continue their education is a key priority, and many of Red Nose Day’s grantee partners are helping do just that, providing online resource centers and virtual programming where possible, and working in partnership with governments and schools to support their efforts to get kids connected. Where digital learning is not an option, many partners are quickly adapting program materials so they can be sent to kids’ homes, or working with others in the community to make books and reading materials accessible while libraries and book exchanges are closed.
School means more than lessons
School closures aren't the only effect of COVID-19, interrupting children’s access to education, but also other crucial services. This includes everything from regular meals, to enrichments activities, a sense of stability, emotional support and mentoring, and simply a safe place to be.
Did you know, every day the National School Lunch Program serves 30 million students across the U.S.? Red Nose Day grantees like Save the Children and Brotherhood Sister Sol and Feeding America are working quickly and flexibly on the ground to help get nutritious meals out to children and families who would otherwise miss out.
Though 4,100 Boys & Girls Clubs have had to cease regular programming, over 1,000 of them are stepping up providing critical services to those with nowhere else to turn. In addition to food, some clubs are even providing emergency childcare for medical workers and other frontline staff, and a host of other much-needed support services.
And at City Year, AmeriCorps members who are usually in classrooms across 350 under-resourced schools are now working creatively to maintain critical social, emotional and academic support for kids while schools remain shuttered.
While as much as possible is being done right now to prevent gaps in learning, organizations are also looking ahead to ensure that kids have the best chance to quickly make up what has been missed already and get back on track.
Organizations like Save the Children, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Ounce of Prevention, Laureus Sport for Good, the International Rescue Committee, Room to Read, Brotherhood Sister Sol and City Year are already working on expanding summer learning, ensuring programs will ramp up when schools reopen, and engagement and development for educators and support staff to ensure they remain safe, and ready to take on the enormous challenges ahead.
With your help, we can support numerous programs that will not only shape the lives of kids in need in the weeks and months to come, but impact them for the rest of their lives.
Children need your help now.
The impact of the COVID-19 crisis threatens children living in poverty in an unprecedented way. Your gift to Red Nose Day supports our efforts to keep children safe, healthy, and educated in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic.