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Study says COVID-19 school closures will cost children future income

The research says students will lose more than a half-year of in-person learning -- more than 5% of their entire time in school -- by the end of the pandemic. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
The research says students will lose more than a half-year of in-person learning -- more than 5% of their entire time in school -- by the end of the pandemic. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Restrictions and lockdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic could have a very far-reaching impact on children by limiting their future income, due to the disruptions in education, according to study published Monday.

The analysis from Britain's Institute for Fiscal Studies projects that keeping children out of classrooms will cost them about $55,000 in lost income over their lifetimes.

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The study specifically cites Britain's coronavirus lockdown and applies its projections to British schoolchildren, but the research draws a strong universal correlation between lasting school restrictions and students' future earnings.

IFS Research Fellow Luke Sibieta said students will lose more than a half-year of in-person learning -- more than 5% of their entire time in school -- by the end of the pandemic.

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Researchers based their findings on a report that found that just one year of schooling typically increases earnings by 8% annually across advanced and high-income countries.

Last month, Britain closed schools to most students to curb COVID-19 and a more contagious variant. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said recently the schools would remain closed until at least March.

In the interim, children have attended classes remotely. Millions of other schoolchildren around the world are in the same situation.

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The IFS noted a Dutch study that showed a link between school closures and poor test scores, as well as a difficult predicament for disadvantaged children who lack necessary digital equipment to attend classes remotely.

"Without sufficient catch-up, children will leave school with less knowledge and skills that can be applied in their job or a lower ability to gain further skills," Sibieta said.

"With reduced skills and knowledge, there is also a risk that technological progress and innovation will slow."

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Extra resources are needed to offset the losses, the study says, adding that a national tutoring program in Britain has shown some promise but won't be enough.

"We therefore need to think of big and radical ways to increase learning time," Sibieta said. "This could be extending the school year, lengthening the school day, mass repetition of whole school years or summer schools."

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