Oct 20, 2020 - Health

Schools haven't become COVID hotspots

Illustration of a school desk surrounded by caution tape

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Reopened schools generally have not experienced large coronavirus outbreaks, an early sign that they may not be the super-spreaders some experts had feared.

Why it matters: Data so far suggest that schools can be safely reopened, alleviating one of the biggest and most sensitive tensions of the pandemic.

By the numbers: In a Brown University study of about 227,000 kids in all 50 states, the infection rate was just 0.14% among students and 0.25% percent among staff. Even in high-risk areas of the U.S., the student rates were under 0.5%.

  • New York City Public Schools found 18 positive cases out of about 10,600 tests, after nearly three weeks of an in-person school year, the New York Times reports.
  • A separate study of more than 57,000 open day care providers showed that day care was safe as long as basic safety measures, including small groups and mask-wearing, are in place.

What they’re saying: “I hope that more schools and districts will see these data, and others, and perhaps start to think about how reopening might work. We do not want to be cavalier or put people at risk. But by not opening, we are putting people at risk, too,” Brown University economist Emily Oster told The Atlantic.

Yes, but: The data, however encouraging, is still limited to smaller school districts, as most of the largest districts opened with fully remote learning.

  • Managing the logistics of mitigation strategies while juggling budget cuts, staffing and student reliance on public transit is a major challenge, Noelle Ellerson Ng, associate executive director at the AASA, the School Superintendents Association, told Axios.
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