The COVID-19 pandemic has forced national governments to make many difficult decisions that have impacted our lives. One of such decisions is the one of whether to close or not schools in the event of a lockdown.
The decision to forcefully close down educational institutions is not as straightforward as the general public might perceive it to be. This is the case because, although the arguments in favour of that decision are well-known and easy to understand, the arguments against it are not. According to estimates by Hanushek and Woessmann, the loss in learning from school closures in the first semester of 2020 might lead to a fall of around 3% in life-time income for students in grades directly affected by the pandemic and to an average of 1.5% lower annual GDP for the remaining of the century. At the same time, this lost learning also carries distributional issues; students from poor families or families in which parents (or its representatives) have less education are expected to receive a greater fall in their future lifetime income. All these numbers are, predictably, going to even be even greater if further school closures happen, without any sort of compensation for the affected students.
All in all, there are no easy decisions when it comes to the pandemic situation. Nevertheless, national governments should bear in mind that, in matters of education, special care and attention are needed as it concerns a piece of vital importance for the future of its countries.
- Eyles, A., Gibbons, S., & Montebruno Bondi, P. (2020). Covid-19 school shutdowns: What will they do to our children’s education?.
- Fuchs-Schündeln, N., Krueger, D., Ludwig, A., & Popova, I. (2020). The long-term distributional and welfare effects of Covid-19 school closures (No. w27773). National Bureau of Economic Research.
- Hanushek, E. A., & Woessmann, L. (2020). The economic impacts of learning losses.