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Significant learning loss due to COVID-19 is impacting children across America

COVID-19 has disrupted the education of an entire generation of children. When the pandemic hit the United States, more than 55 million school children from K-12 were sent home to learn. Today, nearly two years into the pandmic and as Omicron surges, many schools have still not returned to normal, worsening learning loss as well as social isolation. Being cut off from school, teachers and friends can be difficult for any child. For the most vulnerable children – many of whom were already behind – it’s devastating. 

Children who are poor, children who live in rural areas and children from communities of color are faring the worst during the pandemic. They are more likely to be food insecure, are disproportionately affected by the digital divide and are likely to experience the greatest learning loss.

Save the Children works in over 200 of the poorest communities in rural America, helping children prepare for and succeed in school, so they can succeed in life. Since the start of the pandemic, we've been working around the clock to provide children with books, learning materials and nutritious meals.

The most vulnerable children are the worst-affected by learning losses

The poorer a family is, the greater the likelihood that kids are missing out.

In schools serving predominantly Black and Hispanic students,  just 60-70% were logging in regularly

In schools serving predominantly Black and Hispanic students,  just 60-70% were logging in regularly

These catastrophic learning losses mean high school drop-out rates are likely to increase, resulting in up to 1 million more dropouts

Hunger makes it even more difficult for disadvantaged children to overcome the significant challenges of remote learning

A young boy wears a blue t-shirt while sitting outside in Tennessee.

Statistics about learning loss due to COVID-19 

  • Across America, 16 million students lack adequate internet or devices to sustain effective distance learning at home. 
  • 38% of families making less than $25,000 a year don't always have a computer available for educational purposes.
  • Nationwide, an estimated 3 million vulnerable students – those who are homeless, in foster care, have disabilities or are non-native English speakers – appear not to be in school at all. 
  • In September 2020, economists estimated COVID-related learning loss shrinks the incomes of affected children by 3% over their lifetimes.

Most students are experiencing learning loss, but students of color are faring worse

A young boy wears a red sweatshirt while resting his head on an open book.

Children in Black and Hispanic families have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. These families are twice as likely as white families to lack enough food, twice as likely to be struggling with housing costs, and are about 1.5 times as likely to have difficulty paying bills and to lack the tools needed for remote learning.

Black and Hispanic students are more likely to be learning remotely. However, when it comes to engagement, schools serving predominantly Black and Hispanic students had only 60-70% logging in regularly

Black and Hispanic students are also more likely than white students to have no live access to teachers. Most experts agree that without any live instruction, many students will struggle to progress. 

The reality is that many months of learning have already been lost. If the status quo continues, students of color stand to lose 11 to 12 months of learning by the end of the school year, compared to 7 to 8 months for white students.

How to help kids curb learning loss

A young boy and girl play with a yellow toy truck in the dirt outside a home in rural America.

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