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COVID-19 & K-12 Education

January 26, 2022
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Ramon Martinez III and Dr. Alan Moss

Executive Summary 

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted schooling due to infections of children and school staff, school closures, and increased reliance on virtual learning. Both academic performance and Socio-Emotional Learning (SEL) of children have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has also been documented to cause negative physical health outcomes in some children. Additionally, the wrap-around services of schools, such as free or reduced-price lunches and reporting of child abuse, are more difficult to maintain in remote education settings. Schools have historically responded to disease outbreaks with a host of mitigation responses, including vaccinations, periods of closures/distance learning, and outdoor learning environments. 


  • As pediatric cases of COVID-19 have increased in recent months due to the Delta and Omicron variants, 15 states and Washington, D.C. have implemented rules in schools to mitigate viral spread. 
  • From 2019 to 2021, math proficiency rates in Missouri have declined by 5.8% on average, English language arts proficiencies have declined by 2.9%, and science proficiencies have declined by 3.8%.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted student perceptions of mattering in school and their mental health more broadly.
  • Teacher shortages have been exacerbated by COVID-19.
  • Children have experienced increased rates of hospitalization (particularly in obese children) and Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome as a result of COVID-19 infections.


  • While certain mitigation measures like school closures do not have a proven substantial impact on disease transmission rates, mitigation measures such as masking, testing, ventilation, and staying home when sick have proven more effective. 
  • Because of the recent and ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, research on the long-term effects of COVID-19-related disruptions to education is relatively limited.


This Note has been updated. See the previous version here (published in October, 2020).

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