Opening schools

Abstract

In-person schooling has proved contentious and difficult to study throughout the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Data from a massive online survey in the United States indicates an increased risk of COVID-19-related outcomes among respondents living with a child attending school in-person. School-based mitigation measures are associated with significant reductions in risk, particularly daily symptoms screens, teacher masking, and closure of extra-curricular activities. A positive association between in-person schooling and COVID-19 outcomes persists at low levels of mitigation, but when seven or more mitigation measures are reported, a significant relationship is no longer observed. Among teachers, working outside the home was associated with an increase in COVID-19-related outcomes, but this association is similar to other occupations (e.g., healthcare, office work). While in-person schooling is associated with household COVID-19 risk, this risk can likely be controlled with properly implemented school-based mitigation measures.

Thanks, this looks like a very nice study. They’ve done a lot to try and control different confounding factors, and to handle the fact that in-person schooling is associated with other COVID-19 related things such as income, location, and minority status.

Bottom line is that attending or teaching at an in-person school increases the risk of the individual and the individual’s family catching COVID-19, but the increase in risk is small and can be reduced even more if everybody just wears a mask and stays home when they’re sick. Families will have to weigh that risk against the benefits of in-person school.

I know that is something that many people argued up thread, but it is very good to see empirical evidence that it works out that way.

For perspective on these odds ratios, keep in mind that smoking gives an odds ratio of around 7 for developing lung cancer.

living in a household with a child engaged in full-time in-person schooling is associated with a substantial increase in the odds [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 1.38, 95% CI 1.30-1.47] of reporting COVID-19 like illness (CLI, fever of at least 100°F, along with cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing), loss of taste or smell (aOR 1.21, 95% CI 1.16-1.27), or a positive SARS-CoV-2 test result within the previous 14 days (aOR 1.30, 95% CI 1.24-1.35)

Those odds ratios go down further when the school takes even basic precautions, such as masking and distancing. The more precautions, the better.

Teachers working outside the home were more likely to report COVID-19-related outcomes than those working at home (e.g., Test positive aOR 1.8, 95% CI 1.5-2.2; fig. S15 and table S13). The confidence interval summarizing the elevation of risk overlapped with corresponding intervals associated with working in healthcare (aOR 1.7, 95% CI 1.5-1.9) and office work (aOR 1.6, 95% CI 1.5-1.7).

Vaccinations of teachers should reduce this even more.

Yep, if several mitigation strategies are used.

Here’s some more interesting data. The demographics are shifting more toward school age kids possibly due to adults getting vaccinated, more in person classes, and school sports. Children Now Account For 22% Of New U.S. COVID Cases. Why Is That? : Coronavirus Updates : NPR