Learning loss expert available to comment on school closures

Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience & Learning Disorders says the true cost of the pandemic on children’s learning may only be evident in years to come.

 January 07, 2022
Emma Duerden

 January 07, 2022

Data are now emerging concerning COVID-19 pandemic-related school closures over the past two years, and findings indicate that even moderate lockdowns (eight weeks) are associated with learning losses, with children making few gains by learning at home.

Emma Duerden

Emma Duerden

Emma Duerden, Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience & Learning Disorders at Western University, studies the impact of early life stress on brain development as well as social and cognitive abilities in infants and children. She is available for media interviews.

“The true cost of the pandemic on children’s learning may only be evident in years to come and overall, developing strategies around school closures that are aimed at enhancing resilience and promote equity in education are needed during the ongoing pandemic,” says Duerden, the scientific lead of the Developing Brain Lab.

Duerden co-led the LEAP (Learning, Education, and the Pandemic) study, which assessed family experiences with learning during COVID-19. Specifically, the researchers explored how family stress and virtual learning during the pandemic impacted students’ education.

A Western Education faculty member, Duerden is also the principal investigator for COVID-19: Managing Parent Attitudes and School Stress (COMPASS). The study is focused on the long-term effects of school closures on Canadian children and parents.

“Children belong in schools, however, the risk of exposure or contracting the virus remains very high,” says Duerden. “School closures, absences and staff shortages will likely be inevitable during this next wave.”

Duerden posits further systematic evaluations are needed to weigh the costs of school closures with public health benefits, particularly for children who face social or medical adversities.

Commentary reflects the perspective and scholarly interest of Western faculty members and is not an articulation of official university policy on issues being addressed.

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