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COVID-19: New Studies Shed Light On Connection Between Reopening Schools, Virus Cases

A new study found that there are few links between a rise in COVID-19 cases and schools reopening.
A new study found that there are few links between a rise in COVID-19 cases and schools reopening. Photo Credit: New Rochelle School District via Facebook

Despite a recent rise in COVID-19 cases across the nation in the past two months, there may not be as large a correlation between the new cases and schools reopening in the fall, according to newly released studies.

International researchers found that there is no consistent relationship between the spread of the virus and the opening of in-person K-12 learning in a pair of newly released studies.

According to NPR, a third study in the United States also found that there is no elevated risk of contracting COVID-19 for childcare workers who returned to the classroom.

The report found that there could potentially be more of a risk to children, mentally and physically, by keeping schools closed.

One doctor cited in the report found that there has been an uptick in mental health problems, hunger, obesity due to inactivity, missing routine medical care, and the risk of child abuse, as well as the loss of proper education.

In a Brown University study of approximately 227,000 children in all 50 states, the infection rate was at approximately 0.14 percent among students and 0.25 percent among staff members. In high-risk areas of the U.S., the student rates were under 0.5 percent.

“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.

There have been no reported COVID-19 outbreaks in reopened schools, though some have been forced to temporarily transition away from hybrid or in-person learning and back to remote education as a precaution due to positive cases.

"Children under the age of 10 generally are at quite a low risk of acquiring a symptomatic disease,” Dr. Rainu Kaushal of Weill Cornell Medicine said in the report. “And they rarely transmit it either. It's a happy coincidence that the youngest children face lower risk and are also the ones who have the hardest time with virtual learning.”

Another researcher added, “I would like to see the students, especially the younger students, get back. I feel more encouraged that that can happen in a safe and thoughtful way.” 

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