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An argument our schools are better off for opening

WASHINGTON (Axios): Iowa students will be better off academically and health-wise compared to schools that are still partially shut down, argues John Bailey, former deputy policy director at the Commerce Department under George W. Bush.

Why it matters: Schools nationwide will have to grapple with learning losses next fall, but Bailey contends it won’t feel as severe for states that opened earlier.

Driving the news: The CDC released two studies this month showing little virus transmission occurs in schools, as long as mitigation efforts like masks and proper hygiene are in place.

Bailey also presented a report to Congress in March, urging schools to reopen.

The big picture: The academic, financial and mental consequences from closing schools have concerned families and school officials nationwide.

Experts fear students may miss key academic milestones, falling behind grade level and in some cases dropping out of the educational system altogether.

And parents are worried about loss of income if they’re unable to work due to school closures, especially families of color.

The argument: States that returned to in-person learning earlier possibly slowed these losses by providing infrastructure like child care, counselors and social services.

Women exiting the workforce is a COVID consequence, but one study shows narrower gender disparity in labor participation for states that opened earlier, per Bailey.

“Where we as a country have got it wrong is we didn’t adjust our strategies to reflect the growing body of research,” Bailey said.

The other side: It’s too early to tell what the long-term implications are education- or health-wise for schools that chose to reopen earlier, said Annette Anderson, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Safe and Healthy Schools.

The bottom line: Families need to weigh the health vs. education costs for themselves.

None of this is one-size fits all.