Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This [coronavirus] one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. (Roy 2020)
This special issue of the Journal on Education in Emergencies (JEiE) is focused on education during pandemics. While the choice of topic for this issue was prompted by the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, history has been plagued by a long list of pandemics (see Table 1). Studies from around the world have shown the effects a health crisis can have on education. A recent example is the Ebola crisis in West Africa, which resulted in schools being closed for seven to nine months; the impact on school enrollment and dropout rates as the schools reopened was devasting. Recent evidence, including that provided in this special issue, suggests that COVID-19-related school closures have already left their mark.
Not only have they exacerbated preexisting inequalities—for example, students from the poorest and most marginalized communities have had the least access to remote learning technology—but the isolation caused by the closures has resulted in psychological trauma that will likely take years if not decades to overcome. The importance of these effects is reflected in the fact that at least four other journals have published special issues on education during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies