All SHP News News October 28, 2020

School Reopenings and the Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic

SHP's Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert, David Studdert and Michelle Mello write in this JAMA Health Forum Insight that school reopening efforts must account for characteristics of the communities within which schools are embedded.
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Few issues in the policy response to the coronavirus pandemic have inspired as impassioned debate as reopening our schools, write Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert, David Studdert and Michelle Mello in this JAMA Health Forum Insight article.

"There is broad agreement that school closures involve heavy burdens on students, parents, and the economy, with profound equity implications, but also that the risk of outbreaks cannot be eliminated even in a partial reopening scenario with in-school precautions. Consensus largely ends there, however: the approaches states and localities have taken to integrating these concerns into school reopening plans are highly variable.

"This variability is driven partly by differences in values and priorities. More concerning is that it may reflect inattention to or underweighting of key epidemiological considerations. In particular, the intense focus of school reopening discussions on in-school mitigation measures has tended to underplay relevant features of the surrounding community and the relationship between school and community transmission of COVID-19. To succeed, school reopening efforts must account for salient characteristics of the communities within which schools are embedded and engage with fundamental questions regarding intergenerational risk and benefit tradeoffs.

"Three community considerations are especially important. First, school reopening increases the risk of transmission within schools but also within households, workplaces, and the community at large. Second, community disease prevalence affects in-school transmission risk, and third, other community characteristics drive the potential impact of increased spread. We elaborate on each of these considerations."

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Boy in mask at chalkboard

The Missing Piece — COVID-19 Testing and School Reopening

Stanford Health Policy's Michelle Mello and Stanford medical student Yasmin Rafiei write in this New England Journal of Medicine perspective that most school reopening plans focus on screening for Covid-19 symptoms. Yet recent research indicates that symptom screening alone will not enable schools to contain Covid-19 outbreaks.
A surgical mask is tucked into a pupil's school backpack.

Classroom Learning With Safety In Mind: A Pediatrician’s Thoughts

For a recent 1:2:1 podcast, Stanford Medicine's Paul Costello asked Stanford Health Policy's Jason Wang about best practices for keeping schools safe and why it's important for kids to have in-person learning when possible.
COVID-19 written in chalk

Recommendations for Strict, But Costly Re-Opening of Schools

SHP's Jason Wang and School of Medicine student Henry Bair suggest schools should and can reopen safely if they follow a set of strict — though expensive — guidelines to avoid COVID-19 infections among students and teachers.