We want schools to reopen but do it safely, experts tell Charlotte County Dems

School closures, and economic shutdowns will cause measurable income losses for today’s students, two economics experts told Charlotte County Dems in an online discussion.

Dr. Phalin, economics and international business professor at the Warrington Business College, University of Florida, said the economic effects of COVID-19 could be estimated by looking at the economic effects of other natural disasters. “There are statistics that show over a lifetime, an individual could lose a year’s worth of salary.”

These professors also warned that reopening colleges and K-12 schools without first controlling the spread of the virus will have, not only serious health consequences, but it is likely to worsen the economic impact.

“We all want schools to reopen. But here in Florida, we are just running 100 miles per hour in the wrong direction”, said Dr. Paul an economics professor at New College in Sarasota. “I think reopening schools needs to be the top priority. [Even if] that means closing down the economy in order to do so. It should mean no more bars, restaurants, and movie theaters [until the virus is controlled].”

Dr. Phalin described other countries’ experiences in opening schools safely and unsafely. “Israel reopened schools back to normal and they lost all of the gains they had made [controlling COVID-19] in the lockdown.” Israel then had to reclose schools after outbreaks in schools.

Dr. Phalin said the reopening of schools in Europe went really well. “The reason that happened is they got control of the virus first and then kept the infection rate down to a very low daily rate,” Dr. Phalin said. “The schools also reopened in phases. The first students to return were children of essential workers. Then schools opened for everyone else.”

“It was a very measured, phased-in process. Infection rates went back up, but it hasn’t been anything like what happened in Israel when they simply threw the doors open.”

Dr. Phalin also described long term health effects that some COVID-19 victims experience. “What does COVID do to the body? It’s not the flu. There are people who appear to recover, but they are left with life long debilitating disease affecting lungs, heart, kidney, and brain.”

A mother of a 7-year-old girl, Dr. Phalin expressed her concerns about risking her daughter and other school-age children to COVID-19 exposure. “If we go back to school now, we will be creating a generation of COVID kids. They may have major debilitating illnesses that will call for a national reckoning of what COVID does to the health of this generation.”

Visit Charlotte County Public Schools website to learn about plans to open schools.Image Credits: Freeimages.com:Rob Gonyea