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How Room to Read is Responding to COVID-19

Geetha Murali | March 18, 2020


Dear Room to Read Family,

We are thinking of you as we all adapt to new circumstances, and millions of families look for ways to help their children continue to learn while out of school. Without question, we are in unprecedented times, and I wanted to take a moment to let you know how Room to Read is responding to the COVID-19 global health crisis.

Our goal is to prioritize health and safety, and do everything we can to ensure that the children we work with can continue their education. At the same time, we will continue our focus on maximizing every contribution to our organization by investors and operating with the same transparency and fiscal accountability we are known for.

According to the most recent data published today by UNESCO, 102 countries have closed primary through secondary schools nationwide. This represents more than 849.4 million primary and secondary students enrolled in those closed schools. Additionally, 11 countries have localized school closures. In nearly all countries where we have operations, there are partial or full public school closures. 

Along with taking steps to keep our staff and communities safe, such as halting travel and implementing remote work options, we are taking the following steps to keep our programs and resources accessible:

  • Identifying opportunities to adapt our literacy and gender equality programming for distance learning, including professional development for teachers and mentoring for girls
  • Sharing our digital platform, Literacy Cloud, for books and other learning resources more broadly; we welcome you to use it and share these resources with your own children
  • Expanding our book supply chains, government partners and other local relationships to find ways to get books to children who cannot visit libraries
  • Monitoring the rapidly changing circumstances in every country and community in which we operate, following official public health guidelines and adapting mission-critical activities accordingly

Additionally, we know that when schools reopen after prolonged closures, there is often the need to help students catch up on lost learning. Sometimes this is in the form of accelerated learning programs or modifying curriculum and school year calendars to make up for lost time.  We are working to find ways to share our knowledge and help children and their schools get back on track once schools reopen.    

I’ve told you what we’re doing, but there’s one thing we’re not doing, and that is giving up on our students.

With so many children out of school, there has never been a more urgent need to facilitate learning. We are committed to ensuring that this crisis doesn’t result in a generation of children who lack basic reading skills. This pandemic is a sobering reminder that education is critical, and vulnerable communities need support. Only through education can people build the skills and resources they need to best respond to crises like the one we’re facing now, as a global community.

We are more committed than ever to building a future in which every child has access to quality education, and we’re deeply grateful for your support. Wishing you and your loved ones safety and fortitude during this challenging time.

Dr. Geetha Murali

CEO, Room to Read

>> To help children continue to access the stabilizing force of education during this turbulent time, click here to make a donation.