The Psychological Effect of School Closures

March 14, 2020 3:53 p.m.
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Here’s an update from TPM Reader DB from the Greater San Diego metro. Let’s understand collectively that each of these notes is a snapshot, not necessarily representative of what is happening in other areas or addressing every issue. Taken together though they can give us some partial understanding of what is unfolding in our country …

As usual TPM is out ahead of the curve, educating readers on pros, cons, and consequences of school closings to slow the spread of COVID-19. It was with this foundation that I followed the five (so far) very thoughtful emails from my daughter’s school district over the last few weeks.

Things in the San Diego area just changed suddenly. On Thursday evening my daughter’s district was going to stay open with the email citing the services offered by the schools. On Friday morning, the district decided to close until April 6, which would be the end of spring break, with the email citing the need to limit community transmission. I’m sure the decision was motivated by announcement that the Los Angeles and San Diego Unified school districts are closing. The executive order by the Governor of California issued on Thursday has had a big impact. It looks like it is governors who are stepping up.

As New York is still wrestling with a decision, I want to point out a consequence that the school closings had on everyone’s psychology. It tells you: It’s here. Take this seriously. Take action. Follow all of the precautions that we have been hearing about. It settles you into a war-like mindset in which normal life is changed.

And life here in San Diego has changed. My daughter and I would normally have gone to our weekly ice skating lesson this Saturday morning. All lessons and hockey practices at the ice arena had been preceding normally this week up until Friday. Yesterday I decided not to go this morning, and my daughter heard from her skating friends on group chat that none of them are going either until this is all over. If the schools are closing, then we should not also go to gatherings. This change was as sudden as a door slamming. (We are going to keep up payments, which are deducted automatically, because we want the ice arena to still be in business when we get back to skating.)

Also with the schools closed, I brought my laptop and references home on Friday and am planning on working from home to be home with my daughter. The decision to close schools is forcing businesses to make accommodations because parents have to be home with their kids.

I hope that in New York, you get past the decision to close the schools soon and settle in.

Key Coronavirus Crisis Links

Josh Marshall’s Twitter List of Trusted Experts (Epidemiologists, Researchers, Clinicians, Journalists, Government Agencies) providing reliable real-time information on the COVID-19 Crisis.

COVID-19 Tracking Project (updated data on testing and infections in the U.S.).

IHME Projections Site (COVID-19 epidemic model which has become the canonical model for many states and hospitals.)

Johns Hopkins Global COVID-19 Survey (most up to date numbers globally and for countries around the world). (extensive source of information and data visualizations on COVID-19 Crisis — discussion of data here).

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