With more than 1.5 billion children forced out of school this year because of coronavirus-related closures, there is concern that hundreds of thousands of them might never go back once life returns to normal.
The Wall Street Journal cited United Nations data that said roughly 90% of all schoolchildren were home by the middle of April. In Europe, experts are worried that some will continue to stay out of the classroom for good.
"I've never had this many kids not come to school," says Barbara De Cerbo, who works as a school headmaster near Naples, Italy. "There is the fear that we'll lose some of them for good."
Roughly 6% of Italian children and somewhere between 10% and 20% of Spanish children have not done any remote learning during COVID-19 lockdowns, the Journal reported. Part of the problem is that some families don't have computers or tablets for their kids to use.
In the U.S., officials have tried to keep children on task by providing them with devices to facilitate online learning. But in New York City, for example, in excess of 10% of students have not participated in learning activities in recent weeks — despite the fact that families in need were given digital devices and Wi-Fi.
As the coronavirus spread to nearly every corner of the U.S. in February and March, schools nationwide closed their doors and offered online education to their students. The results have been mixed, as some school districts were plagued with technical issues early on and others saw low participation.
Schools in the U.S. are hoping to reopen their doors for the fall, albeit by following strict guidelines, although there is concern that a second wave of the virus could complicate those plans.
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