Skip to main content
COVID-19 and Education Disruption in Ontario: Emerging Evidence on Impacts
Education Publications
  • Kelly Gallagher-Mackay, Wilfred Laurier University
  • Prachi Srivastava, Western University
  • Kathryn Underwood, Ryerson University
  • Elizabeth Dhuey, University of Toronto
  • Lance McCready, University of Toronto
  • Karen B. Born, University of Toronto
  • Antonina Maltsev, University of Toronto
  • Anna Perkhun, University of Toronto
  • Robert Steiner, University of Toronto
  • Kali Barrett, University of Toronto
  • Beate Sander, University of Toronto
Document Type
Publication Date

From March 14, 2020, to May 15, 2021, Ontario schools have been closed for 20 weeks total, longer than any other Canadian province or territory.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant education disruption in Ontario. This has included mass and localized school closures, multiple models of educational provision and gaps in support for students with disabilities. The unequal distribution of school closures and pandemic- associated hardships, particularly affecting low-income families in which racialized and Indigenous groups, newcomers and people with disabilities are overrepresented, appear to be deepening and accelerating inequities in education outcomes, wherever data have been collected. Further, there are health risks associated with closures including significant physical, mental health and safety harms for students and children. Modelling suggests long-term impacts on students’ lifetime earnings and the national economy.

There are substantial data gaps on the impact of closures on Ontario’s children. However, existing information and analysis can inform strategies to minimize further pandemic disruptions to children’s education and development. Identifying or tracking areas where students are facing the greatest challenges in the wake of COVID-19 and implementing systematic supports to address pandemic-associated educational harms are critical to minimizing the overall impact and supporting recovery.


This brief was commissioned to inform the Science Advisory Table’s deliberations, and was cited in a briefing on April 1, 2021. This version is a preprint.

Creative Commons License
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0
Citation Information
Kelly Gallagher-Mackay, Prachi Srivastava, Kathryn Underwood, Elizabeth Dhuey, et al.. "COVID-19 and Education Disruption in Ontario: Emerging Evidence on Impacts" (2021)
Available at: