Blog: Educational Outcomes (COVID-19 and Literacy)

April 25, 2023

This article explores the impact of COVID-19 during the pandemic on youth literacy based on recent studies and research. 

By Ankur Subedi, RSW, ESPC Volunteer


The COVID-19 pandemic posed a huge challenge to the education system. Remote/Distance Learning was one of the most difficult transitions that transpired for children and youth during the pandemic which compelled them to stay out of classrooms, leaving them with little to no resources at home (George, 2021). An oral reading fluency (ORF) research was conducted at Stanford University that stated that students’ improvement in reading skills and abilities diminished during school disclosures at the beginning of the pandemic; although the literacy rates had begun to rise soon after, the new growth was still not adequate to compensate for those gaps (George, 2021).  

The International Literacy Association conducted a study in which teachers’ perspectives on how literacy and education for bilingual children altered as a result of the shift to remote learning during COVID-19 (Crosson & Silverman, 2022). Writing for a purpose or audience and independent reading of the connected text witnessed the most significant declines in instruction, according to the teachers, who also reported reduced instruction for all language-intensive competencies and literacy skills (Crosson & Silverman, 2022). The study also identified a number of challenges and changes brought about by institutional processes, even for literacy components that were expected to be less impacted by the transition to remote teaching before and after COVID (Crosson & Silverman, 2022). According to this research, there is a pressing need to prioritize literacy instruction for Emergent Bilingual Students while emphasizing the importance of fundamental coding skills, spoken language, and comprehension abilities. (Crosson & Silverman, 2022). 

The provincial government of Alberta pledged $45 million in funding for specialized programming in May 2021 to “bridge the gap” in reading and numeracy skills caused by COVID-19 disruptions (Junker, 2021). According to reports, each student in grades 2 and 3 received $490 in funding for reading or numeracy support (Junker, 2021). The funding was intended to increase the level of programming for students, such as switching to small groups or one-on-one support, recruiting more staff, and enacting new early-year numeracy programming (Junker, 2021). It also entailed expanding targeted parent communication programs to involve them in more programming and to ensure that the employees who provided those interventions to students had the necessary support and tools. (Junker, 2021). It was also revealed that children in the early grades were the most affected by the pandemic and had the greatest trouble catching up; therefore, funding would be prioritized for students in grades 2 and 3 whereas the targeted support for students in Grade 1 would commence as of February 2022 (Junker, 2021).  

The pandemic’s course has been long and challenging which has caused distress on a global level and a new kind of disadvantage for children and youth (George, 2021). While the pandemic was unpleasant for everyone, the world’s poorest children were the ones who suffered the most and are headed for an uncertain future now (George, 2021). 


Ankur Subedi is a Registered Social Worker (RSW), currently advancing her education in the Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) at the University of Calgary. Having completed the Social Work Diploma from Norquest College, Ankur comes with a diverse background in community involvement. Ankur is passionate about working in social services and working with vulnerable populations to help them achieve their best possible levels of mental, social, and physical well-being. 


Crosson, A.C., & Silverman, R.D. (2022). Impact of COVID-19 on Early Literacy Instruction for 

Emergent Bilinguals. Read Res Q, 57(1), 5– 14. Retrieved from 

George, A. (2021, September 21). Covid’s literacy fallout. Language Magazine. Retrieved from 

Junker, A. (2021, October 27). Alberta schools to receive funds to help close literacy and 

numeracy gaps in grades 2 and 3 caused by COVID: LaGrange. Edmonton Journal.  

Retrieved from  update-on-support-for-students-during-the-covid-19-pandemic 


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