What Coronavirus School Closures Would Mean for the U.S. Economy

Mar 11, 2020 | 16:34 GMT

A teacher points to a projector screen as she gives a vocabulary lesson at a high school in Worthington, Minnesota, on Sept. 5, 2019.

Students engage in a vocabulary lesson at a rural high school in Minnesota. U.S. school closures are increasingly likely in response to the coronavirus outbreak and risk causing significant economic disruptions across the country.

(COURTNEY PERRY/The Washington Post)


  • As political pressure increases to contain the coronavirus epidemic, more U.S. schools are expected to close in the coming weeks.
  • By forcing more families to stay home and take care of their children, such closures risk disrupting worker productivity, domestic consumption and business operations across the country.
  • Lower-income communities in both rural and urban areas, in particular, will face potentially strong disruptions to key providers of social services without sufficient or affordable alternatives.
  • To offset the economic fallout, the U.S. government will likely implement new stimulus and social spending measures that could persist past the current coronavirus crisis.

As more coronavirus cases spring up across the United States, an increasing number of U.S. schools are closing shop in an effort to reduce students' ability to infect each other, and even more importantly, older and more immunosuppressed members of their community. But by shifting the role of educator and weekday caregiver to families, these shutdowns will risk leaving a large section of the U.S. labor force with less time and energy to work, as well as less money to spend in the economy. Despite these risks, however, state officials may have little choice but to continue imposing wider school closures to avoid a full-blown health crisis -- even if it means forcing many Americans to choose between their children's education and earning a paycheck....

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