BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Johns Hopkins University launched a new tool Friday that tracks the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on education.

The Global Education Recovery Tracker — which was a collaborative effort between the Baltimore-based university, The World Banka and UNICEF — will help assist countries’ decisions on their reopening and recovery efforts.

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The tool captures information on the status of schooling, modalities of learning, availability of remedial education support and status of vaccines for teachers.

The tracker builds on JHU’s work to track COVID-19 cases, testing and vaccinations around the world.

“Throughout the pandemic Johns Hopkins has demonstrated the vital role for universities in providing accurate, evidence-based data and information for the world,” said Johns Hopkins Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Sunil Kumar. “We hope the work of this partnership will build understanding of how COVID-19 continues to affect students everywhere.”

Data from early March 2021 shows that 51 countries have fully returned to in-person education. In more than 90 countries, students continue to learn in some hybrid model.

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“The world was facing a learning crisis before COVID-19,” said Jaime Saavedra, World Bank Global Director for Education. “The learning poverty rate – the proportion of 10-year-olds unable to read a short, age-appropriate text – was 53% in low- and middle-income countries prior to COVID-19, compared to only 9% for high-income countries. A year into the pandemic, continued disruptions to schooling, shifts in learning modalities, and concerns for students’ well-being are ever greater, and this learning crisis is getting worse. COVID-19 related school closures are likely to increase learning poverty to as much as 63%.”

“In many countries, students and teachers need urgent supplemental support,” Saavedra continued. “The return to school requires accelerated, remedial, and hybrid learning, as well as other interventions. Collecting and monitoring this data on what countries are doing is critically important to help us understand the magnitude of what support is needed as we go forward, learning from the major trends observed among countries.”

The tracker will also show how students are being supported and vaccine rollout.

“Even as vaccines are beginning to rollout worldwide, for hundreds of millions of the world’s schoolchildren, the consequences of this pandemic are far from over,” said UNICEF Chief of Education Robert Jenkins. “We must prioritize the reopening of schools, including prioritizing teachers to receive COVID-19 vaccines once frontline health personnel and high-risk populations are vaccinated. While such decisions ultimately rest with governments making difficult tradeoffs, we must do everything in our power to safeguard the future of the next generation. And this begins by safeguarding those responsible for opening that future up for them.”

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CBS Baltimore Staff