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School Closures and COVID-19: New tool to understand impacts on children

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Released: 2021-03-15

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect communities and families across the country, with many having lost family members and friends. In order to curb the spread of the virus, policy-makers across Canada have temporarily closed schools and employed remote-learning approaches. While intended to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, there may be unintended consequences associated with these measures that may impact the 5.7 million children and youth attending primary or secondary school in Canada.

To better understand the different ways that these measures have affected children and youth, Statistics Canada has developed the School Closures and COVID-19: Interactive tool. This tool brings together existing baseline information about populations that were already vulnerable heading into the pandemic, as well as existing data on some of the impacts of school closures. The interactive maps will allow users to better understand where some communities may be more vulnerable than others. When possible, data is included at the health region level, where decisions are often made on measures taken to limit the spread of COVID-19.

School plays an important role in many aspects of the lives of children

School is considered an integral aspect of the lives of children and youth, affecting their intellectual and social development, and their physical and mental health. As a result, the pandemic (more broadly) and the closure of schools (more specifically) can have varied impacts. The tool covers comprehensive themes, including learning and academic success, accessibility and special needs, physical activity and fitness, mental health and well-being, socioeconomic outcomes and food insecurity, victimization and safety, and diversity and disproportional impacts.

It may take years to fully measure and comprehend the effects of the pandemic on children and youth, as some of these effects, such as potential learning loss, could have long-lasting consequences. Based on the information that is currently available, the impact of COVID-19 has disproportionately affected populations that were already considered to be vulnerable.

For example, children with disabilities may be more vulnerable to challenges with remote learning. According to a crowdsource initiative by Statistics Canada, in the first few months of the pandemic, 58% of parent participants whose children had a disability reported being very or extremely concerned about the school year and their children's academic success, compared with 36% of parents whose children had no disabilities.

It is important to consider that not all communities face the same vulnerabilities and some children may be overrepresented among those most impacted.

This tool will be updated as more data become available.

  Note to readers

This interactive tool was made possible through a collaboration between Statistics Canada and Children First Canada.

Reference to the crowdsourcing initiative refers to the following article: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadian families of children with disabilities.

A new visual overview of the high-level findings is also released today.

New data tables covering key indicators at the provincial and territorial and health region levels of geography are released today: 13-10-0815-01 and 13-10-0816-01.


Today, Statistics Canada releases a new product: School Closures and COVID-19: Interactive tool (Catalogue number71-607-x2021009). This tool brings together existing baseline information about populations that were already vulnerable heading into the pandemic, as well as more recent published data on some of the impacts of school closures.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

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