With the learning of nearly 90 percent of the world’s student population disrupted by the current pandemic, U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) requested that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) prioritize distance learning opportunities for children in its COVID-19 response.

“Education is one of the most important tools for success in our world. During these uncertain times, we must do whatever we can to protect basic education and learning however we can,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick, co-chair of the Congressional International Basic Education Caucus. “Distance learning must be prioritized to help provide quality education to our children.”

Rep. Fitzpatrick joined with 20 of his colleagues, including U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), in sending a bipartisan April 2 letter to USAID Administrator Mark Green to take steps that ensure “education is not neglected in this crisis.”

“While our foreign assistance efforts must seek to contain the spread of the virus, we must also acknowledge that a child’s need to continue their education is essential during times of crisis,” wrote Rep. Fitzpatrick and the lawmakers.

Students should have access to both high- and low-tech education programs that offer distance learning opportunities through self-directed study materials, community radio, television, and online instruction, among others, to help them continue their education, connect with their peers, and retain a sense of normalcy, according to their letter.

“We have a responsibility to equitably administer these programs and resources to ensure that all children, including girls, children with disabilities, and other marginalized groups will benefit from distance learning while their schools are closed,” Rep. Fitzpatrick and his colleagues wrote.