Studies show school reopenings are generally not causing COVID-19 spikes

by Laura Mize · Oct 22nd, 2020 3:19 pm

Last Updated Oct 23rd, 2020 at 9:47 am

A pair of international studies on school reopenings and coronavirus cases seem to show that putting kids back in schools is not causing spikes in new cases of the virus.

One researcher who looked at conditions in Spain found that despite the start of a second wave of COVID-19 cases prior to the beginning of the school year in September, there was no evidence of increased spread of cases coinciding with the reopening of school. One region studied showed a rate of increase in cases consistent with numbers before the school year; cases stayed flat in another region, and in yet another area, officials recorded a decline in the number of new cases a few weeks after school resumed.

"What we found is that the school [being opened] makes absolutely no difference," said Enric Álvarez, a faculty member at a university in Spain.

The Spanish research showed that among students and school employees who tested positive for the virus, 87% had not infected a single person at school. Students in Spain wear masks to school, maintain social distancing and interact within small pods of students to help prevent viral spread.

A report from the organization Insights for Education found that out of 191 nations studied from February through September 2020, there were "no consistent pattern" of schools being open affecting case numbers.

"It's not that closing schools leads to a decrease in cases, or that opening schools leads to a surge in cases," said the organization's leader, Dr. Randa Grob-Zakhary.

Grob-Zakhary also said the group does not claim schools have no influence on cases, but that a surge does not inevitably follow school openings.

Numbers in the U.S. do not indicate that schools are causing a problem, either.

"The data so far are not indicating that schools are a superspreader site," Dr. Preeti Malani, a University of Michigan doctor and infectious disease specialist, said.


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