(WFSB) – It’s important for kids to get back to school, but how critical is it to the economy to get them back in their classrooms?
Channel 3 looked at this idea that reopening schools will help American regain its economic footing.
“The desire to reopen and return to schools makes sense in that the economy is inextricably intertwined with schools,” said Dr. Brian Marks, University of New Haven.
Public schools are big spenders, shelling out money for textbooks, lunch contracts, electronics, and more.
But beyond spending, experts say schools serve as safe spots for students when parents are at work.
Dr. Brian Marks is a senior economics lecturer at the University of New Haven.
“To enable people to return to work, there needs to be a place for children,” Dr. Marks said.
When schools are shut down, parents of younger children especially are faced with the dilemma of how to do their jobs to financially support their families and be home with their children.
Some have opted to go part time and some, when given the choice, chose to work from home.
Even parents who were working from home before the pandemic hit are finding their productivity challenged.
“Productivity probably has declined in the workplace. So, there’s strong incentives from all around to see children go back to school,” Dr. Marks said.
There are millions of people in this situation.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, in 2019, 40 percent of working families included children under the age of 18. That’s 33 million families.
Even if schools fully reopen and parents could go back to work outside of the home, would that really turn the economy around?
“It is a complex system that we just can’t flip the switch one place and expect everything to fall into place,” Dr. Marks said.
Experts say it’s unlikely a plethora of jobs will suddenly become available or life will be back to normal.
There are still thousands of jobs that have been lost that would have to be replaced for the economy to take a turn in the right direction.
Dr. Stephen Ross is a professor of economics at the University of Connecticut.
“The rate of growth required to eliminate those permanent job losses that were mixed in with the temp we’ve shut down jobs losses will take a very, very long time no matter what we do with schools,” Dr. Ross said.
There’s still the question of whether parents will fee comfortable sending their children back to school or even going back to work.
Economics professor Christina Robinson of Central Connecticut State University says right now, uncertainty plays a major part.
“Throughout history, when we are bale to see a population getting uneasy, we tend to see spending curtail, we tend to see people save more, and ultimately that doesn’t create jobs, it moves us away from job creation,” Robinson said.
The experts say we’re unlikely to see a sharp increase in spending and job creation just because schools are reopening.