Academics minimize the role of the economy in the decision to close schools

“I would prefer not to give economic 'ammunition' for this debate”, said professor at the Catholic University of Lisbon João Borges de Assunção à Lusa, considering that “the problem of the closure of schools is the problem resulting from the education of children and young people ”.

Economists João Borges de Assunção and Francisca Guedes de Oliveira recognize the economic impact of a possible closure of schools due to the covid-19 pandemic, but minimize their role at the present time.

“I would prefer not to give economic 'ammunition' for this debate”, said professor at the Catholic University of Lisbon João Borges de Assunção à Lusa, considering that “the problem of the closure of schools is the problem resulting from the education of children and young people ”.

By "measuring the economic cost in terms of the breakdown of the product in that period, we may be inducing people" that there is an opinion "about the closure or not of schools that depends on the consequences of GDP", says the economist .

“In my case it doesn't depend”, the university professor stressed to Lusa, considering that the eventual economic consequences “are not the right gauge” to assess the problem, despite recognizing that “it will make a difference” and will have an “additional consequence” in economic terms.

Francisca Guedes de Oliveira, a professor at the Catholic University of Porto, also told Lusa that “the decision to open or close is probably one of the decisions that has less to do with the economy”.

"I do not think that, at this moment, the decision to close schools is a decision that has to do with deficit and increased spending", she added, when asked about the budgetary expenses of some social support measures related to June of last year.

However, he acknowledged that it is “talking about a lot of money in a state budget that is already short, and that is no longer enough for everything” that we think it was necessary to do.

The economist also considered that the closure of schools “is probably one of those measures that has a relatively small impact” in economic terms, considering that “this measure is one that can help a good control of the pandemic and contagions without actually having an economic weight substantial".

"If schools are closed, we will be moving towards something very similar to what happened in March and April", considered the economist, something that could mean "people start to control themselves more and stay at home".

João Borges de Assunção recognizes that “whenever there is a prolonged severe confinement, as it happened in the second quarter of last year, it is possible that the economy will fall to a level that is not very different from what happened in the second quarter of last year”, stressing which refers to the “level, not variation” compared to previous periods.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the economist recalls, "in practice we have had three situations in consecutive quarters", one of "severe confinement", another of "very rapid recovery" and yet another "soft confinement", with "the economy falling enough ”and staying at an“ intermediate level ”.

Asked if the current situation is similar to this intermediate level, Francisca Guedes de Oliveira agreed: “Although there is a set of measures that are more serious, from an economic point of view, than those that occurred in November”, currently, “from the point of view of in view of mobility and social interaction, we are clearly at a much greater distance than we were in March and April ”.

João Borges de Assunção predicts that the necessary support in the face of a situation of possible closure of schools will have to have a larger dimension than last year, when faced with the expenditure figures in June.

"There is everywhere, which is much greater than that, which has to do with the loss of tax revenues, and which the Government did not explain directly, because it did not explain this properly in the State Budget report for 2021", he said, also adding that there is an expense that will come “via credit” granted to companies, which is “conditional on companies that have enough jobs”.

Borges de Assunção defended that the Government, "whenever it takes a serious measure of confinement", should "accompany with a financial measure equivalent to the losses that this confinement gives to all the affected tissue".

“And that is an extraordinarily high financial value. And if it is a short period, 15 days, it is a relatively small amount and the State will be able to accommodate it, but if it is a long period the State will not be able to accommodate it ”, he concluded.

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