Reopening schools should be a scientific decision

Original source: San Antonio Express-News

September 25, 2020

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Well-meaning people can have legitimate differences of opinion about the best public policy responses to the ongoing COVID-19 threat. The degree to which to limit indoor festivities, for instance, is an open question, with compelling scientific and economic arguments on each side of the debate.

In contrast, science is increasingly settled that in-person schooling must safely resume. Classroom closures, which are ongoing in school districts across the country, pose an enormous risk to children, with little to no reward. There is little room for debate on this issue.

Consider a new study by Eric Hanushek, a leading education economist at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, published this month. He concludes classroom closures have reduced affected students’ lifetime incomes by about 3 percent so far, with disproportionate adverse outcomes for minorities.

These economic consequences will only grow the longer classrooms remain closed. Economists generally agree each additional year of schooling raises lifetime earnings by roughly 7.5 to 10 percent. Many students across the country have had almost no productive learning over the last six months.

Read the full op-ed on San Antonio Express-News by Dr. Jane Hughes, an ophthalmologist and partner of the Job Creators Network Foundation.