Deaths from COVID-19 in the United States are at lowest levels since March 2020, corn alarmism on the “Delta variant” is nevertheless on the rise. Many parents are worried: Will teacher unions and government officials agree again to close schools or otherwise restrict in-person learning this fall?
With this debate heat, the results of a new report by McKinsey & Company documenting the devastating academic, economic and mental consequences of last year’s school closings could not be more timely.
Here is the background.
State officials shut down public and private schools across the country when the pandemic first erupted. Then we quickly learned that COVID-19 posed a relatively minimal risk to children and that in person schools weren’t turning into virus hotspots. However, teachers’ unions pushing political and personal demands put pressure on elected officials. They took students hostage and kept schools fully or partially closed for many months after understanding the science behind school safety. Many schools have finally reopened only for the last months of the 2020-2021 school year.
With tens of millions of children forced into hastily-designed “distance learning” programs and millions more left entirely behind, school closures quickly turned out to be catastrophic. Students have been deprived of their education by the government â and thanks to the new McKinsey analysis, we now know how serious the lifelong ramifications of this decision will be.
Analysts at the global consultancy firm analyzed the numbers and concluded that school closures would leave students with an average of five months late in math and four months behind in reading. This is bad enough, but the analysis notes that these gaps are particularly important for students in predominantly black and predominantly low-income schools.
âHigh schoolers have become more likely to drop out of school, and high school seniors, especially those from low-income families, are less likely to pursue post-secondary education,â McKinsey also reports.
All this loss of education will have serious financial implications. Analysts find students negatively impacted by school closures could earn $ 49,000 to $ 61,000 less over their lifetime Therefore. This can amount to a 128 to 188 billion dollars in annual losses to the US economy as the affected generation eventually enters the workforce.
Yet the harm inflicted on our children by government mandates to close schools is not just academic or financial. Depriving children of in-person socialization, limiting their ability to see friends and disrupting their routines has also had serious consequences for their mental health, McKinsey finds.
McKinsey surveyed more than 16,000 parents in all 50 states. At least 35% said they were “very” or “extremely” concerned about their children’s mental health. Almost 80 percent indicated some level of concern. Meanwhile, parents reported a 6 percent increase in anxiety clinically and a 5 percent increase in clinical depression in their children. They also reported an increase in social withdrawal, self-isolation, lethargy, and irrational fear.
With this comprehensive data in hand, it is undeniable that government-mandated school closures have caused lifelong damage to an entire generation of children.
To be clear, virtual or distance education per se is not the problem. For some students and families, this may work well. But the government has overstepped the judgment of parents and school officials, denying them the option of in-person education even if that is what they wanted.
We now have to live with the dismal results. Let them stand as a reminder of what happens when we superimpose the will of detached government bureaucrats on parents who are in a much better position to make good decisions for their children.
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