January 17, 2021

Do schools spread COVID? It may depend on how bad things already are around them

Opening school buildings doesn’t increase the spread of COVID-19 in places where cases or hospitalizations from the virus are rare, according to two new studies.

Reopening schools in areas with higher caseloads, though, does spread the virus, one found, while the other couldn’t rule out that possibility. It remains unclear exactly at what point school reopening becomes more risky.

The papers are the most rigorous efforts yet to understand the link between schools and COVID spread in the U.S. It’s research that could guide school officials and health officials grappling with whether to reopen or keep open school buildings. But there aren’t simple answers for places with higher numbers, at a moment when some counties are seeing COVID cases peak.

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