The Overwhelming Evidence for Keeping Schools Open

  • Pediatrics releases a study looking at incidence of secondary transmission in schools and found: “Over 9 weeks, 11 participating school districts had more than 90,000 students and staff attend school in-person; of these, there were 773 community-acquired SARS-CoV-2 infections documented by molecular testing. Through contact tracing, NC health department staff determined an additional 32 infections were acquired within schools. No instances of child-to-adult transmission of SARS-CoV-2 were reported within schools.”
  • Iceland has been the gold standard of contact tracing using genomic analysis. A recent “40,000-person study found that children under 15 were about half as likely as adults to be infected, and only half as likely as adults to transmit the virus to others. Almost all the coronavirus transmissions to children came from adults.”
  • UNICEF released a report on November 20, 2020 making the case very clearly by stating that “there is strong evidence that, with basic safety measures in place, the net benefits of keeping schools open outweigh the costs of closing them.” They also clarified that “schools are not a main driver of community transmission, and children are more likely to get the virus outside of school settings.”
  • Brown’s School of Public Health makes The Case for Open Schools in a Pandemic by concluding “it is clear from the data and experiences of individual school districts that opening schools in a pandemic with infection control measures in place does not lead to increased transmission of the virus. In many ways, schools can be the safest place to be for children during a pandemic.
  • According to NJ Coronavirus Dashboard Monmouth County has 6 outbreaks in all its schools linked to a total of 19 cases since September.
  • Peer reviewed evidence continues to mount in favor of school openings. I will reference a few studies below but there are many more. Luckily this organization tracks all the COVID-19 Pediatric Literature .

1. Estimation of US Children’s Educational Attainment and Years of Life Lost Associated With Primary School Closures During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic

“This decision analytical model found that missed instruction during 2020 could be associated with an estimated 5.53 million years of life lost. This loss in life expectancy was likely to be greater than would have been observed if leaving primary schools open had led to an expansion of the first wave of the pandemic.

These findings suggest that the decision to close US public primary schools in the early months of 2020 may be associated with a decrease in life expectancy for US children.”

2. Effect of school closures on mortality from coronavirus disease 2019: old and new predictions

“The model used for Report 9 was independently validated and verified, and predicts that, in the absence of an effective vaccine for covid-19, school closures would result in more overall deaths than no school closure

Mitigating a covid-19 epidemic requires a different strategy from an influenza epidemic, with more focus on shielding elderly and vulnerable people.”

3. Impact of school closures for COVID-19 on the US health-care workforce and net mortality: a modelling study

“Minimizing the impact of COVID-19 and saving lives requires weighing the trade-offs. In some scenarios, closing schools is likely to be sensible. However, policy makers and advisers need to understand that closing schools might have serious unintended downstream effects on the health-care system, and substantial uncertainty exists about the effectiveness of school closures for preventing infection beyond schoolchildren.

The effect of reducing the health-care workforce on patient survival is an important unknown. Our estimates suggest that in the USA, the health-care system appears disproportionately exposed to labour shortages induced by school closures, and the segment of that system that provides infection control in nursing homes even more so.

Such potential shortages in the health-care workforce should be a first-order consideration when assessing the potential benefits and costs of school closures.”

4. Association between living with children and outcomes from COVID-19: an OpenSAFELY cohort study of 12 million adults in England

“For adults living with children there is no evidence of an increased risk of severe COVID-19 outcomes. These findings have implications for determining the benefit-harm balance of children attending school in the COVID-19 pandemic.”