InsideWis: The link between education, economy, is more evident than ever

InsideWis: The link between education, economy, is more evident than ever

Inside WisconsinMany U.S. policymakers seem concerned about reopening bars, restaurants and health clubs closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. They should be at least as worried about restarting America’s education engine, which will best serve the economy – and young people – over time.

The differences between how the United States has reacted to the spread of coronavirus and how other countries have managed the disease have been stark at times, which isn’t all that surprising given the diversity of cultures, political systems and leaders.

What is emerging in Europe right now, however, is a clear lesson that should not be lost on American public health officials and elected leaders: Children, parents and the economy, both short and long term, benefit from live instruction in schools.

Even though there have been serious virus surges elsewhere in their societies, authorities in France, Britain, Spain, Germany, Italy appear to be virtually unanimous on the need to put children back in classrooms. They worry about learning gaps that grew wider during lockdowns earlier this year, especially among children from poor families, as well as parents who would be better off in their respective jobs and contributing to the economy than serving as amateur teachers.

It’s not that authorities in Europe – or elsewhere around the world — are crowding kids into classrooms as if it’s business as usual. The Associated Press reports that precautions are being taken that range from mask rules, hiring more teachers for smaller class sizes, physical changes in school buildings, hand-washing stations, one-way corridors, staggered starts and lunch times.

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