Closed schools = Economic cost

Despite the science supporting in-person learning, many schools—under pressure from teachers’ unions—will begin the school year online.

But the costs of closed schools are great. Distance learning proved to have serious limitations this past spring, and continued school closures not only exacerbate health and academic disparities, but there is an economic cost involved as well. Erica Pandey and Felix Salmon write for Axios that “closing schools for COVID-19 could cost about $700 billion in lost revenue and productivity,” which equates to a “whopping 3.5% of GDP.

Parents are losing work hours—or even quitting their job—as schools and day-care centers remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That hinders economic growth.

Working parents make up around a third of the U.S. workforce. 13% of them lost their jobs or cut back hours due to child care challenges during the pandemic, according to a June survey conducted by Northeastern University. And even if parents can work and care for their kids at the same time, it’s impossible to be as productive.

On average, a working parent loses around eight hours a week—or a full workday—due to pandemic-era childcare responsibilities, per research by Alicia Modestino, an economist at Northeastern University.

For lower-income families and families of color, that work hour loss goes up to 10 hours per week.

Both groups are disproportionately represented in essential, in-person jobs and can’t make up for lost time with early mornings or late nights.

“This is a big drag on the economy,” Modestino tells Axios. “Working parents are in every state, in every industry, and in every occupation. The macro implications are really, really big.”

Schools play a key part in driving our economy. Continuing to shutter their doors has impacted the earning capabilities of families today and will reduce the future earnings of our kids tomorrow. Economist Michael Strain with the American Enterprise Institute finds that

keeping kids home for another semester…represents a loss of over $30,000 per decade in future earnings for a typical worker who graduated high school but didn’t attend college. And if kids only get online schooling until September 2021, the losses for many would likely be even larger.

Bottom line: Keeping schools closed ignores the terrible trade-offs that will result.