Study: Virtual school didn't lower community transmission
Data spanned 12 weeks and 895 school districts
A study published in the Nature Medicine Journal suggests that despite increases in cases, schools can operate without substantially raising community infection rates.
The study spanned 12 weeks from July to Sept. 2020 and divided the country by regions. The block regions were labeled northeast, midwest, south, and mountain west.
It should be noted that the ‘south’ included states from Delaware across to Texas.
The far northwest on the pacific coast was not part of the study since almost all schools were virtual during that time.
The study took into account three main modes of learning including traditional in-person, hybrid and virtual.
Findings included case increases following the first few weeks of the start of school with the south being the only region where there was statistical significance.
The south’s increase could have been due to more in-person and hybrid attendance, but in all of the other regions case rates in the community were similar regardless of the mode of learning offered.
Researchers said that in traditional school attendance areas there was likely more community movement that could account for increased spread. In the discussion portion, the study noted that “Detailed district infection control plans were not available” for analysis.
“Elementary school children appear to spread less than children in older grades and may be less able to participate in remote learning,” the study concluded. “Thus, one proposed policy option was offering traditional instruction to younger children while offering hybrid or remote options to middle and high school students.”
The study noted there was zero impact on the number of COVID deaths during that 12 week period.
Read the full study: The impact of school opening model on SARS-CoV-2 community incidence and mortality