Shutting Down Schools Was the Most Destructive Pandemic Policy

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Shutting down schools was the most destructive policy of the pandemic. McKinsey & Co. strengthened that thesis this week with a study that compared spring 2021 test results to previous pre-pandemic semesters.

McKinsey & Co. found that pandemic-era children were, on average, four months behind in reading and five months behind in math.

“[S]tudents who move on to the next grade unprepared are missing key building blocks of knowledge that are necessary for success,” the report finds.

“Students who repeat a year are much less likely to complete high school and attend college without immediate and sustained interventions.”

Looking ahead, the study predicts, based on test results of 1.6 million students in grades 1 through 6, that lost learning during the pandemic could cut lifetime earnings by $49,000 to $61,000 on average.

As predicted, the teacher unions responsible for the extended closing of schools disproportionately damaged students in low-income households. While affluent parents paid for tutors or private schooling, students whose household income was below $25,000 fell seven months behind in math and six months in reading.

The Wall Street Journaadds that children in majority-black schools ended the school year six months behind in math and reading.

Furthermore, students in poor and minority communities across the country often lacked the resources to participate in online learning, which was required of students. The National Education Association (NEA) estimates that 25% of school-age children did not have broadband access or a web-enabled device.

The Daily Wire released the following data in May.

In Los Angeles, 15%-20% of English learners, students in foster care, students with disabilities, and homeless students didn’t access any of the district’s online educational materials from March through May.

In Washington, D.C., back-to-school family surveys found that 60% of students lacked the devices and 27% lacked the high-speed internet access needed to successfully participate in virtual school.

In Miami-Dade County, 16,000 fewer students enrolled this fall compared with last year.

Because of the shift to virtual learning from in-classroom learning, the New York Times found that almost three million children had dropped out of full-time school. The Times’ report followed up a study in early 2021 that said over two million K-12 students were no longer showing up for school sessions, calling them essentially “off the grid.”

In addition, suicide rates drastically increased as schools remained closed over the past year.

Suspending in-class learning for an unreasonable length of time is undoubtedly the most consequential decision made during the pandemic. Moreover, it’s a decision that will negatively linger and loom over the country for years to come.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers media, politics, and sports at OutKick.


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  1. Let this all be a lesson to Americans to keep our heads about us in a crisis. When we see elected officials pushing for more control, no matter what the problem is, we need to bulldoze that idea early on rather than foolishly think they can do anything to help. They simply use any crisis as a distraction to gain more power over us. We have too many examples now to have an excuse.

    • I was just reminding my wife tonight, our elected officials and other Government agencies work for US. We don’t work for them and they are not “the Boss”. I tell people that, and they look at me like I am an alien. As long as at least half of the population thinks the Government is our Boss, these mandates are going to stick around

  2. I teach at a middle school, and our kids had in-person learning all year (with masks). After breaks (Christmas & Spring) we quarantined with distance learning for a week. Whatever I taught that week, I ended up re-teaching in some form or fashion the following week when we returned to in-person learning. I got a little frustrated, but then I realized how much better off my students were because they got to be in-person for practically the whole year. Even if we covered slightly less material than a ‘normal’ year, they were still on track, still engaged, and still working hard. Despite the weirdness of the time, my students were learning. I feel so, so sorry for the kids that weren’t in school last year.

  3. Last year I had a thought about these school shutdowns. There are typically residency and other rules incorporated with elections for local and state positions, at least here in California. If we could somehow make it a rule that if you run for office, your kids (K-12) have to go to public school in the district you represent that would solve a ton of problems. No more shutdowns, no more awful teachers, no more “get the police out of schools” nonsense. Politicians nearly universally send their kids to private schools where they are exempt from their moronic policies they claim are good for us but they want no part of. This needs to end

  4. This entire episode has been such an indictment of the teachers unions, their Democrat cronies in elected positions, and of many parents who didn’t fight back hard enough against it all. And all at the expense of innocent kids who can’t fight back for themselves. Infuriating.

  5. The illegal entries at our southern border just letting them in no testing or anything and releasing them into our country without knowing who they are or health conditions now that’s crazy shiznit and should be handled like day before yesterday.

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