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US study reveals economic cost of Covid-era school closures – Reuters

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Students locked out of classes during pandemic face up to 9% lower lifetime income as California is set to lose $1.3 trillion in GDP

Covid-related school closures have caused a drastic drop in test scores, and affected students could see their lifetime earnings prospects plummet by nearly 10%, according to a recent Stanford University study. According to research, shutdowns will cost US$28 trillion this century.

The study linked falling eighth-grade math and reading scores between 2019 and 2022 to students’ lifetime earning potential, concluding that these scores — which have fallen in every US state since the pandemic hit – will reduce students’ projected income between 2% and 9% depending on their state of origin.

This shortfall will cost the states themselves between 0.6% and 2.9% of their gross domestic product (GDP) each year for the rest of this century, the newspaper continues. Oklahoma (2.9%), Delaware (2.85%) and West Virginia (2.75%) will see the largest declines as a percentage of GDP, he said, with California suffering the largest overall loss at $1.3 trillion.


“The pandemic has had devastating effects in many areas, but none are potentially as severe as those on education,” author Eric Hanushek wrote in the study’s conclusion. “There is overwhelming evidence that students at the school during the lockdown period and during subsequent pandemic adjustments are at levels significantly lower than would have been expected without the pandemic.”

US K-12 schools closed for in-person learning in March 2020, with states or school boards then deciding when to reopen. Republican-run Florida ordered all school boards to reopen in August, for example, while schools in Montana only closed for a month. In the Democratic stronghold of California, only about half of all schools had resumed in-person learning by the end of the following school year.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten has backed school closures, urging teachers to strike if forced to do their jobs in person in the fall of 2020.

The National Assessment of Education Progress revealed in October that students’ scores in maths and English nationwide suffered the biggest year-on-year decline in history in 2022, erasing steady gains since 2000.

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