Status of schools during COVID-19: An overview

Mar 19, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the way people study. Since the beginning of the strict quarantines, when the schools had to completely close, it was necessary to transform and adapt for virtual learning. For almost a year, remote learning was the only way in which the vast majority of schools, colleges and universities reached out to their students. However, during the last months, several schools and universities have opened their doors and students have progressively returned to the classrooms, keeping biosafety protocols. Based on data from our COVID-19 Data and Innovation Centre’s global terminal,we will show you how the status of schools during COVID-19 has fluctuated in 2020 and 2021, in relation to the total number of COVID-19 cases.

General overview of school status in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa

Since February 16, 2020, many schools had to shut down in order to protect their students, teachers and staff so as to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic due to the accelerated number of confirmed cases around the world. 

In February 2021, the situation was still normal and most schools were fully open except in countries like Mongolia – where schools were closed – and China – where they were partially open. 

However, only one month later, everything suddenly changed around the world. On March 16, 2020, schools were completely closed in countries like Colombia, Ecuador, Senegal, Ghana, Iran, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, and Namibia.

In the meantime schools in Brazil, India, and Yemen were partially open, while fully open in countries like Congo, Nigeria, Mexico, and Thailand. 

Insights on how COVID-19 affected education in Latin America and the Caribbean

  1. In Colombia, cases of people infected with COVID-19 increased during the school break in December 2020 – January 2021, specially on January 5, when the COVID-19 cases increase to 6,524 from one day to the other.


2. In Mexico, schools were closed from March 24, 2020, until February 27, 2021, for a total of 11 months. During this period, there were three academic breaks, including Christmas break. On December 22, 2020, there was a daily increase of 7,141 cases. 

3. Brazil has been one of the countries with the highest number of COVID-19 confirmed cases. The highest number of cases was registered (based on a daily difference) during the academic break, on February 7, 2021, where confirmed cases increased to 77.475 from one day to the other. 

Insights on how COVID-19 affected education in Asia

  1. In India, schools have been partially open since October 16, 2020, to March 2021, and the highest rate of confirmed cases (based on a daily difference) was registered on January 9, 2021, with a total of 36,867 confirmed cases. 
  1. In Pakistan the school status has varied during 2020 and 2021. Since February 27, 2020, schools have been partially open three times, totally closed four times and fully open three times. The highest daily difference of cases registered was on January 14, 2020, with a total of 6,472 more cases compared to the day before, during academic break.

Insights on how COVID-19 affected education in Africa

  1. In Congo, schools have been totally closed for short periods of time (from March 17, 2020 to April 17, 2020 – from May 7, 2020 to May 16, 2020, and September 23, 2020 to October 10, 2020). In regards to the number of confirmed cases, for September 2, 2020, the daily increase was 649 confirmed cases, during academic break, a considerably low increase compared to Latin American and Asian countries. 
  1. In Cameroon, the situation varies. Since February 16, 2020, to March 31st, 2021, schools have remained fully open and partially open, except for the months of mid April to the end of May were they where totally closed. Until March 2021 the tendency was for cases to remain stable or even decrease from one day to the other. However, on March 11, 2021, a peak of confirmed cases is detected, with a total of 3,828 more cases than the day before, when schools were fully open.

It becomes clear that each region had different response plans, depending on how their situation was in relation to COVID-19 cases in their countries.

Besides from providing evidence on how the status of schools during COVID-19 changed, this information allows us to understand why it has been necessary to transform the educational system and implement new ways of learning.