COVID-19 – The Latest Updates on School Closures

How the Coronavirus Is Affecting Schools Across The Globe and in the USA

Last updated March 18, 2020, 3:00 pm EST.

These are new and challenging times for schools all over the world. The outbreak of COVID-19 has brought much of the world to a grinding halt, including the educational system. With information changing so quickly, we wanted to give our readers a one-stop source of information regarding what schools are doing all over the world and what you can expect in the coming weeks. We will do our best to update this article as often as possible.

Schools around the world

As of March 18th, a large percentage of countries have either partially or completely closed their schools. 107 countries have mandated that all of their schools should be closed including China where over 250 million students are being affected. At this point, most of Europe has decided to suspend schooling for at least the next couple of weeks with parts of Africa and South America following suit, leaving a staggering 862 million students around the world without schooling for the time being.

Another 12 countries have partial closings, including the United States which is still letting individual states decide what to do.

For updates on worldwide school closures, you can view UNESCO’s world map here.

Schools in the United States

Reactions to COVID-19 in America have been very different across the board. So far 39 states have completely shut their schools down, and the remaining ones have localized shutdowns district-by-district. While some states were quick to act, others like New York lagged behind. The entire public school system in New York is now closed, but not before teachers in New York City threatened a massive sickout after Mayor Bill De Blasio vowed to keep schools open as long as possible.

Some states, like Florida, were starting spring break this week anyway but have now extended that break for at least another week. That uncertainty is being felt across the country where schools haven’t said definitively when they will reopen or what re-opening will look like. In all, out of the more than 98,000 public schools in the USA, over 91,000 are now closed which is affecting over 41.7 million students. 

For updates on state school closures and potential reopenings, you can go here.

What happens next?

For parents, teachers, and students this is the elephant in the room that no one has been able to accurately address yet. Most districts across the country are taking this week to assemble a more long-term plan but that’s proven to be tricky because it’s not known how long schools will have to be closed for. Currently, the CDC is recommending an 8-week halt to gatherings of more than 50 people, which would keep schools closed into May. Many middle and high schools already have some form of online learning through the use of school-issued laptops, so a move to a totally virtual learning environment is being considered in many states, but raises a lot of questions:

What about students who don’t have internet access at home?

How can teachers be expected to hold students accountable on a virtual platform?

What about students who rely on school for breakfast and lunch during the week?

What will parents do for childcare if they still have to work during the day?

Some districts already have answers to some of these questions. There are mobile hotspots being put together for students without internet access, and meal distribution services are being organized as well. In other parts of the country, teachers have been left to wonder what their district’s next step is and what online learning will even look like for their classrooms.

The other looming question is how this will affect state testing. In Florida, the first state test which was supposed to take place April 1st has already been delayed at least two weeks. If schools decide to lean on virtual learning for the next several weeks, what impact will that have on state tests if and when they end up being taken at all? 

In the meantime, many educational websites have made their services available for free, so parents can attempt to keep their children learning in some way. A list of those websites can be found here for parents (and teachers) looking for resources.

As the situation surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, we’ll continuer to update this article with the latest breaking news. 

Also Read:

COVID-19 - The Latest Updates on School Closures

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David Rode

Dave is a middle school math teacher. He's also a musician, a community theater, dad to two amazing children, and he doesn't get a lot of sleep.

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