An empty classroom is seen at a closed school in Paris, Monday, March 16, 2020. France plans to close all creches, schools and…
An empty classroom is seen at a closed school in Paris, March 16, 2020.

About half of all students worldwide — 850 million — are out of school because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to UNESCO. 

Students worldwide are in danger of failing because of interrupted learning, fewer nutritional options provided by schools, and a decrease in safety and protection.  

Parents are challenged by being unprepared for home or distance schooling. Gaps in child care might lead children to risky behaviors that impact their later learning, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization based in Paris says.   

And not everyone has the digital tools they need in countries where technology is limited.  

Educators and governments are being told that UNESCO established a COVID-19 task force to guide and assist governments trying to educate students remotely. Techniques range from real-time video classes to educational programming on radio and television.

It’s also launching a Global COVID-19 Education Coalition to bring together public and private teams — including Microsoft and the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA) — "to help countries deploy remote learning systems so as to minimize educational disruptions and maintain social contact with learners," it says.  

Social isolation is another issue UNESCO is concerned could take a toll on everyone in the family. Dropout rates increase when schools are closed and no organized lessons are available.  

"Schools are hubs of social activity and human interaction," UNESCO says. "When schools close, many children and youth miss out on social contact that is essential to learning and development."