Family Healthcast: What is the risk of spreading coronavirus in school?

Family Healthcast

(WSYR-TV) — New data that came out on Wednesday tracking COVID-19 in classrooms across the country, suggests opening school may not be as risky as many feared.

Researchers at Brown University, working with school administrators, tracked infections for the first two weeks of September in elementary, middle and high schools. It found low levels of infection among students and teachers, far below what is found in surrounding communities.

Only 0.23% of students had a confirmed or suspected case of the coronavirus. Among teachers, it was 0.49%.

Anything less than one percent, which is what we’ve been seeing in the CNY area is considered a low rate of positive tests.

Emily Oster, a researcher from Brown University said, “These numbers will be, for some people, reassuring and suggest that school openings may be less risky than they expected.” She  noted that the school coronavirus rates are “much lower” than those in the surrounding community.

Another researcher from the University of Minnesota, who was not part of the study, says,

“Everyone feared there would be explosive outbreaks in schools. In colleges there have been. To date, we have not seen these in the younger kids.”

It’s unclear how closely the incidence of the coronavirus in schools is tied to policies in schools such as mandatory mask-wearing.

Schools here in Central New York that reopened for in-person learning did so a week to ten days later than those reported in the study. So, we don’t have the full picture locally, but the early data is reassuring.


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