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An empty classroom in Maryland. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The long-term economic cost of school closures could reach into the trillions, according to a paper released this week.

Why it matters: Beyond the direct health damage caused by COVID-19, no other area will have as far-reaching impact as pandemic-driven school closures.

By the numbers: Researchers at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania calculated that learning loss from school closures will reduce U.S. GDP by 3.6% and hourly wages by 3.5% by 2050.

  • That's a result of lowered labor productivity in the workers of tomorrow due both to disrupted education and the generally inferior substitution of remote learning, especially as it was practiced during the pandemic.

Between the lines: There's no easy way to get back the lost time for America's students, but the authors recommend extending the 2021–22 school year by an additional month.

  • They estimate that would cost about $75 billion, but would cut the GDP reduction to 3.1%.
  • That would provide a net gain of $1.2 trillion, about a $16 gain for every $1 invested in extending the school year.

Even with vaccine rates rising and businesses reopening around the country, more than 30% of America's K-12 students still aren't attending in-person school every day, according to the Burbio School Opening Tracker.

Go deeper

Updated Jan 27, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
Aug 29, 2021 - World

Israel offers COVID-19 vaccine booster to ages 12 and older

A paramedic administers the third shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Aug. 24 in Israel. Photo: Ahmad Gharabali/AFP via Getty images

Israel on Sunday expanded its coronavirus booster shot program to include anyone over the age of 12, AP reports.

Why it matters: Israel has seen a surge in COVID cases, due in large part to the Delta variant, and now has one of the world's highest rates of infection. The country was already offering booster shots to people over 30 years old.

Latino millennials are in financial straits

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Younger Latinos are much more likely than their non-Hispanic counterparts to provide financial support to family members during the pandemic, despite barely having savings or emergency funds of their own, per an Ipsos/Bank of America poll.

Why it matters: People of color have borne the brunt of the pandemic’s economic fallout, and Latinos also have a higher ratio of COVID-19 infection and death than other groups when compared with white non-Hispanics, per CDC data.