All over the world, educators and their students feel the rippling effect of the coronavirus. Numerous schools have shut down in the wake of this public health emergency. With health officials scrambling to get a grasp on multiple outbreaks, some education systems have had no choice but to close schools, a rare event.
In 22 countries, spanning three continents, there are school closures at some level. As many as 13 countries have shut down their schools nationwide. The number of students facing upheaval around the globe is in the hundreds of millions.
The United Nations have reported a warning concerning the unprecedented speed and scale of disruption that the coronavirus will cause the education system. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization reports that 290.5 million students have been affected worldwide by the disruption so far. The UNESCO Director-General, Audry Azoulay cited that an impact this fast and wide-reaching could threaten education rights.
Italy’s Education Minister, Lucia Azolina, announced the nationwide closure of Italy’s schools until March 15. The country has over 3,900 confirmed cases of the virus and close to 200 deaths. Thus far, Italy is the worst-hit country in Europe.
Numerous universities in the United States have had students that were on study abroad programs, return from Italy. The decision came after February 26 when the CDC moved the Alert Level from 2 to a Warning Level 3 for Italy. The US-based universities whose students were impacted wrote in statements that students would return to the United States. Students of Villanova University were asked to complete a 14-day quarantine before returning to the campus.
Health officials in Washington State say that no set protocol exists for school closures, even though there are reports of multiple cases of the coronavirus. Seattle Public Schools states they will take extra steps to contain and prevent the disease. Although there have been no confirmed cases with students or staff, SPS school administrators say the school district is following CDC guidelines. All school district-sponsored travel out-of-state for students and staff has been canceled for the remainder of the school year.
Currently, schools across the US are promoting disease prevention strategies as set forth by the CDC. Moving forward, only time will tell how deeply the pandemic will affect the education system.