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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

May 22, 2021 - World

Nepal dissolves parliament as COVID-19 outbreak worsens

Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari in 2017. Photo: LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP via Getty Images

Nepal's president on Saturday dissolved the country's parliament and scheduled new general elections for November, Reuters reports.

Driving the news: Opposition leaders protested the move, saying that planning new elections should not be the government's focus while the country continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, the New York Times reports.

May 22, 2021 - World

Germany to ban most travel from U.K. as COVID variants spread

Photo: Chistof Stache/AFP via Getty Images

German authorities announced it will ban most non-essential travel from the United Kingdom starting Sunday to prevent the spread of new coronavirus variants.

The state of play: Germany classified Britain as "an area of variant of concern," saying that outbreaks are reemerging and more infectious variants, including the one dominant in India, have been detected.