Children with special needs and those from poor or migrant families will suffer the greatest "loss of learning" as a result of homeschooling during the pandemic, a new ESRI report has found.
The study paints a bleak picture of the challenges the lockdown had, and will continue to have, on children and young people's lives for years to come.
Among its findings, the impact of the pandemic will be most acutely felt by young people from economically and socially disadvantaged backgrounds, including those from migrant or refugee backgrounds.
Once the schools eventually reopen, they will "return to school having suffered greater levels of learning loss on average".
Some children who were not "highly engaged in school before the closure may not re-engage in full-time education," the authors warn.
And those with "special needs will likely face particular challenges in re-adjusting to the routine of school and in making up learning loss. If schools do not resume on a full cohort or full-time basis in the coming school year, the learning loss is likely to continue".
The report's authors predict that "additional learning supports will be crucial when schools resume". Merike Darmody, one of the lead authors from the ESRI, said: "The disruption of learning is likely to have long-term consequences for many, especially for more disadvantaged children and young people.
"While short-term measures are important to address the immediate needs of children and young people, the actions taken need to be underpinned by policies addressing larger structural inequalities."
The report drew on existing and emerging Irish and international research on the effects of the pandemic on children.
'Implications of the Covid-19 Pandemic for Policy in Relation to Children and Young People' is released by Children's Minister Roderic O'Gorman today.
Meanwhile a recent survey of 11,615 secondary school pupils, parents and guardians found more than half are worried about "learning loss" due to schools being closed. Pupils said they were concerned that distance learning had left them at a disadvantage and they will already be behind as the new school year starts.
A stark insight into poor infection control in many Covid-hit nursing homes, where the bedroom doors of infected residents were left open and staff suggested a "neighbour might do the laundry", has been revealed in a new report.