How one researcher arrived at a figure of more than a million and a half.

The pandemic has been a continuing nightmare for parents.

This has been particularly true for mothers. Even before the pandemic, child care duties fell disproportionately on women, and this disparity has only grown.

But figuring out how many mothers have been pushed out of the labor force specifically because of school closings can be tricky.

Back in March and April, most government surveys didn’t ask households directly about school closings. The closings happened suddenly and broadly across the country, at the same time the labor market was collapsing from the pandemic. And the downturn has weighed more heavily on female-dominated sectors like leisure and hospitality anyway, regardless of whether workers were parents.

So how many parents have exited work because their children’s schools have closed? Here’s our best guess and how we arrived at it.