Students Still Suffering in School Four Years After Chinese Coronavirus Pandemic

Despite the month of March marking the four-year anniversary of the collective decision to shut down schools all across the country due to the Chinese Coronavirus pandemic, students are still falling well short of academic expectations even after most lockdowns have been lifted.

As Just The News reports, one of the prime examples of ongoing underperformance in the aftermath of COVID is the state of Washington. Whereas some states reopened their schools as early as the Fall of 2020, Washington state did not reopen even well into 2021.

Governor Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) publicly begged public schools to reopen in March of 2021, but the state’s top teachers union, the Washington Education Association (WEA), refused to do so. While the union ostensibly claimed their refusal was due to concerns of a new strain at the time called the India variant, also referred to as the Delta variant, critics believe that the union simply wanted to buy more time off for their workers, and to negotiate more benefits for them upon finally returning to work.

“Look at what’s happened with our children made to pay the price for the fears of adults,” said Liv Finne, Education Center Director at the Washington Policy Center. “Especially children coming from families of poverty, they may never recover, and they will earn less throughout their lifetimes, with fewer opportunities in college and trades because of the decision to close schools for 18 months.”

Finne cited recent predictions by economists stating that students in Washington  “will lose 7% of their earning potential due to COVID school closures.”

“If you don’t get a solid grounding in the basics of math or reading, with the current system that advances you regardless of whether you achieve the knowledge you need to succeed in the next grade, we end up socially promoting children to the next grade,” Finne continued.

Last year, the Spring of 2023 Smarter Balanced Assessment of all students in Washington state determined that just 39% of students got a passing grade on the state test in math. In reading, just 50.1% passed, while 49% failed.

The lasting implications of the shutdowns – first the complete cancellation of school for the rest of the 2019-2020 academic year, and then the failed transition to “hybrid learning,” with virtual classrooms and partial in-person returns – may take years to reverse, leaving entire generations of students less educated and more likely to fail in later education and post-education life. The ordeal has also drawn greater scrutiny to the extreme power imbalance in the public education system, with teachers unions holding virtually all negotiating power to the point that they give the orders to public schools, rather than the other way around.

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About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.

Photo: WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 22: American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten speaks as U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) listens at the AFL-CIO on June 22, 2022 in Washington, DC. The AFL-CIO held an event to discuss “the importance of student debt cancellation for American workers.” (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)