Schools Are Closing Not Because They Should, But Because They Can

Auguste Meyrat:

Nevertheless, studies show that children, and even the teachers, are not seriously threatened by COVID, such that they have more of a chance of dying from the seasonal flu. As White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany stated, “The science is very clear on this…the science is on our side here. We encourage our localities & states to just simply follow the science. Open our schools.” Indeed, the political leaders and unions calling for school closings are largely following their feelings, not science. Not even a majority of the public supports this, as shown in a recent Gallup poll.

Additionally, the online model for learning simply doesn’t work as well as face-to-face instruction, and American students are falling behind. While the hope is that today’s tech-savvy youth will log in to their computers, watch their video lectures, and create amazing projects with peers using Zoom, the reality is that most kids rarely log in to do anything yet receive a passing grade anyway.

Another year of this, explains Joy Pullmann, will set American “kids back in math by a year or two … [and] will short our economy tens of trillions of dollars.” In today’s world, the American economy will not be able to compete with the rest of the world with an undereducated workforce with insufficient math or reading skills.

The scientific data and the “essential” nature of a good education in today’s economy are the likely reasons other countries have already opened their schools. Not only are nations that took a more laissez-faire response to COVID-19 doing this — countries like Sweden — but also ones that took stricter measures like France, Taiwan, Germany, South Korea, and even Canada. Somehow, proponents of school closures have to believe that U.S. students are more at risk than their neighbors up north.

Commentary on 2020 K-12 Governance and opening this fall.