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School closures amid coronavirus outbreak will hurt 'lower-income families much harder:' NYU epidemiologist

A growing number of school districts have decided to shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it could cost the U.S. economy $50 billion according to an analysis done by Joshua Epstein, professor of epidemiology at NYU School of Global Public Health. He joined Yahoo Finance’s “On the Move” to break down the impact school closings could have on the nation and economy.

“We did an estimate of the cost of closing all U.S. schools for one month; we did low, medium, and high estimates. The medium estimate is $50 billion in economic losses, largely due to absenteeism among parents of kids whose schools are closed,” said Epstein. 

When asked what kind of coordination is necessary at the state and federal levels, Epstein said that federal officials have to recognize the effects that school closures could have on lower-income families.

Empty classroom

“I think the main thing the federal government can do is recognize that school closures on a mass basis are quite unequal. I mean, they hit lower-income families much harder than high-income ones because the low-income families don’t have telecommuting as an option. They often don’t have paid leave, and the children have two or three meals a day at school.”

Epstein said the federal government needs to step in to provide assurances. “The government needs to step in and indemnify people to reassure them that they won’t lose their jobs, and also reassure people that they won’t be deported. I mean get everybody to feel confident that this is an intervention that they’ll be able to manage.”

Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.

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