boy washing hands

Back to School During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact children and families in Holt’s programs around the world.  As cases continue to surge, many children will be learning from home this fall. In some countries, back-to-school during COVID-19 plans are still up in the air. But no matter the circumstances, your support is helping to ensure children can continue their education during this ongoing global crisis. See how you are helping children in each country to safely learn this year!

Read more about the steps each of our in-country partners and staff are taking to keep children safe below!

China

Due to the rise of the Delta variant, China is facing another wave of cases and has declared a state of emergency. While none of the children in Holt’s programs have been infected, the date that children will return to school is still undecided. The hope is that children will be able to return to school in September. If any students have been out of town, they are required to quarantine for at least 14 days before returning to school.

Holt staff continues to keep in touch with children, their caregivers and teachers to monitor their needs and ensure children have the tools they need to learn and grow.

Colombia

“In July 2021, students began to return to in-person classes after 16 months out of school — one of the longest educational lockdowns in Latin America. While the need for children to return to school is great, especially in low-income and rural communities, less than 25% of the population has received their first dose of a vaccine and teachers are concerned about further spread of the virus. Schools will implement social distancing, staggering schedules, and other safety measures to reduce the risks associated with re-opening. But many are demanding additional resources to help children return to school safely and catch up academically.” – Malia Robello, Holt Program Manager for Colombia

Ethiopia

“In Ethiopia, schools re-opened mid-November 2020, after more than eight months of closures. During this transition, Holt Ethiopia and partners worked to fill gaps in the education system to improve the learning outcome of all children, with special attention to those with special needs and challenges learning during the past academic year. In September 2021, students will again return to in-person classes for the new academic year. Holt’s programs invest deeply in partner schools and communities to improve educational outcomes for children of all ages, genders and abilities.” – Malia Robello, Holt Program Manager for Ethiopia

Haiti

Haiti is experiencing fewer deadly cases of COVID, and has lifted several restrictions throughout the country. As a result, most children are expected to return to the classroom this fall.

In these schools, some extra health precautions will be taken to ensure that children can stay in class. School staff will continue to promote mask-wearing and hand-washing to protect students and teachers. Holt staff in Haiti have already distributed school-size sanitation kits (soap, bleach and extra face masks for teachers) and several buckets with faucets for hand-washing stations.

At Holt’s partner schools, there are already plans to restart the free breakfast program. Through this program, Holt sponsors and donors help provide a nutritious breakfast four days a week for children living with their families in impoverished communities. As many children don’t get enough to eat, this program helps combat malnutrition and sets them up for success in the classroom!

India

After a deadly wave of the Delta variant in the late spring, the number of cases in India is beginning to slowly decline. As a result, children can go back to school during COVID-19 with safety protocols in place, including those in regions where Holt sponsors and donors support children.

Teachers are trying to be understanding of families with different levels of comfort leaving the house while also knowing some children need to be able to access safe learning environment, away from home. Their solution is to offer a hybrid model so that children who have the ability to learn from home can stay home and children without access to technology are able to come to the classroom.

At schools, there are sanitizing stations around the buildings with teachers monitoring them to ensure children use them. Inside classrooms, students sit socially distanced from each other and wear masks. The school year will look different than it has in the past. But in the communities where Holt works, sponsors and donors are making sure that children have all the books, uniforms and supplies they need to safely learn — including masks and sanitizers. After quarantining for over a year, the children are looking forward to learning together in school with their friends and getting to know their teachers.

Mongolia

At the Red Stone School, a special school for children living near a garbage dump in Ulaanbaatar, staff and donors have been working hard to keep school safe! Repairs to the fence and pavement are in progress so children can play outside. To prepare for the upcoming school year, the staff has also completed a deep clean of the whole school to combat COVID-19.

Because the Red Stone School is in an impoverished community, many students and families don’t have the hygienic resources they need to stay clean and safe during the pandemic. But with donor support, Holt helped build shower facilities at the school several years ago that they could open to both the students and their families to use. This service has helped prevent the spread of COVID-19 in this vulnerable community.

Because the Red Stone School is in an impoverished community, many students and families don’t have the hygienic resources they need to stay clean and safe during the pandemic. But with donor support, Holt helped build shower facilities at the school several years ago that they could open to both the students and their families to use. This service has helped prevent the spread of COVID-19 in this vulnerable community.

Nearby, Holt sponsors and donors are helping support two afterschool programs at local libraries so students have a safe study space. Earlier this year, when schools were closed due to COVID-19, Holt sponsors and donors helped provide more computers and printers so students could continue learning online. The programs also provide a hot lunch each day to all students who attend. This will continue into the new school year, and during any future periods of school closures.

With donor support, Holt’s team in Mongolia will continue distributing masks and hand sanitizer to all of our supported school programs, and also provide instruction to students and families about COVID-19 prevention.

Thailand

Due to new restrictions in Thailand, schools are closed and classes are being taught online. This has caused difficulties for families and children without reliable internet access and a quiet, steady learning environment. Students are struggling to learn online, and many of their parents and relatives aren’t able to help. It is likely that children will face challenges as remote learning becomes more long-term.

With the support of sponsors and donors, our partner, Holt Sahathai Foundation, is continuing to provide survival kits (including sanitizer, snacks and food), toys and books that help children stay focused from home and  These efforts help to keep children engaged in their education as much as possible.

The Philippines

The Philippines is continuing a hybrid approach for the 2021 school year, which will begin on September 13th. Our partner has been encouraged by all of the people who have stepped up to volunteer, including delivering enrollment papers, food and educational resources to children and families in need. And of course, the support of sponsors and donors who provide books, supplies and uniforms children need to attend school.

Vietnam

Today, Vietnam is in the midst of a deadly wave of COVID and the start date for the school year is still undetermined in most of the country. Despite the delay, Holt’s staff in Vietnam are working to prepare children for distance learning by delivering books, bags and bikes to families in need. With donor support, they are also providing scholarships that cover school tuition for 650 children in Holt’s programs.

Uganda

Schools in Uganda are still closed. With donor support, Holt Uganda is investing in home learning materials to provide to children. Each child receives learning materials on a monthly basis. Holt Uganda also trained some community members to be homeschool teachers and continues to support and monitor the learning of children in their respective villages. Children and caregivers are happy about the efforts being made with this program and grateful to Holt sponsors and donors for their hand in providing these services!

Help a child in need go back to school during COVID-19! By August 31st, children need school supplies or they won’t be able to go to school and learn their way out of poverty. Help a child return to school!

Stories Up Next

All Stories