Before I began this article, I told myself I wouldn’t turn it into a wall-to-wall “We told you so!” Now, I’m not sure that’s going to be possible. Damning new data has been released that shows not only have COVID-related school lockdowns damaged America’s kids, but it created a global disaster, as well.
But first, let’s get into just a tad of the “we told you so” stuff about extended lockdowns from almost the beginning, via a few RedState articles at the time. You know, just to set the stage.
Whether it’s Chicago, Los Angeles, or any city where overly-powerful teachers unions continue to block teachers from returning to in-person learning, one thing is clear: unions, formed ostensibly to help America’s teachers better educate America’s children, have instead become a public menace, as study after study continues to reveal the potential long-term impact on students due to school lockdowns; including “psychological distress.
The UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital has seen a 66% increase in the number of suicidal children in the emergency room and a 75% increase in youth who required hospitalization for mental health services, the lawsuit said, quoting pediatricians, child psychiatrists, and emergency room doctors. It also quoted doctors citing an increase in anxiety, depression, and eating disorders among children, consistent with national data.
In many counties the number of visits for suicide/self-harm has gone up — some dramatically — but the most glaring stat is that of the rates of these visits. Almost every single health district has seen these rates rising, a telling sign of the strife. This shift is due to the fact that general hospital visits during the pandemic have scaled back significantly, as more people have been fearful of spread. For the rates of these self-harm visits to rise indicates that the number of these cases has been on the rise against an ebbing tide of hospital demand.
Yet, the school lockouts continued.
Despite dramatic increases in suicide rates and other health-related issues discusses in the above articles, the lockout of America’s school kids from critical in-person learning continued.
Who was to blame — and remains so? Various government entities, from Joe Biden and the Democrat Party, to liberal state and local officials, and last but not least, powerful teachers unions, which fought like hell to keep teachers out of the classroom, often upping their demands as demands were met.
Incidentally, but certainly not coincidentally, as Biden and his administration continued to shill for teachers unions, we learned that Biden received more money from teachers unions than any other candidate in 2020. Can you connect the dots? I can, if you need help — which I doubt you do.
So, fast-forward to today — and the damage done to kids by extended COVID lockdowns.
When COVID-19 first began to spread around the world, pausing in-person learning was a logical precaution, given that nobody knew at the time how transmissible the virus was or might be in the classroom. The self-created problem was that school lockdowns lasted long after encouraging data emerged, suggesting not only that extended lockdowns were unnecessary; but also that the lockdowns were detrimental to both health issues and relative learning abilities, as well.
As reported by The Economist, the costs related to both issues continue to stack up.
New data suggest that the damage has been worse than almost anyone expected. Locking kids out of school has prevented many of them from learning how to read properly. Before the pandemic 57% of ten-year-olds in low and middle-income countries could not read a simple story, says the World Bank.
That figure may have risen to 70%, it now estimates. The share of ten-year-olds who cannot read in Latin America, probably the worst-affected region, could rocket from around 50% to 80%
Over two years nearly 153 million children missed more than half of all in-person schooling. More than 60 million missed three-quarters. By the end of May, pupils in 13 countries were still enduring some restrictions on face-to-face learning; among them China, Iraq and Russia. In the Philippines and North Korea, classrooms were still more or less shut.
So, what are the future repercussions?
Children who never master the basics will grow up to be less productive and earn less income. McKinsey, a consultancy, estimates that by 2040 education lost to school closures could cause global GDP to be 0.9% lower than it would otherwise have been; an annual loss of $1.6trn.
The World Bank thinks the disruption could cost children $21 trillion in earnings over their lifetimes; a sum equivalent to 17% of global GDP today. That is much more than the $10 trillion it had estimated in 2020, and also an increase [over] the $17 trillion it [predicted] last year.
Finally, as noted by The Economist, a paper published in May by analysts at the World Bank, Harvard, and the Brookings Institution looked at 35 studies of learning loss from 20 mostly rich countries. It found that the average loss of learning in affected students was equivalent to four to six months of in-person education.
The bottom line:
In addition to learning loss, affected children have also suffered from lockdown-related emotional issues. Ongoing stress, fear, uncertainty — and even grief — created by draconian lockdowns, have all weighed heavily on children and teens, many of whom continue to have difficult times coping emotionally. Even worse, much or most of the damage has been completely unnecessary.
And for what? Political expediency, power, and money. While the COVID lockdowns might have been new, those three issues remain far from it.