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The impact of school opening model on SARS-CoV-2 community incidence and mortality.

Ertem Z, Schechter-Perkins EM, Oster E, van den Berg P, Epshtein I, Chaiyakunapruk N, Wilson FA, Perencevich E, Pettey WBP, Branch-Elliman W, Nelson RE. The impact of school opening model on SARS-CoV-2 community incidence and mortality. Nature medicine. 2021 Dec 1; 27(12):2120-2126.

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The role that traditional and hybrid in-person schooling modes contribute to the community incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infections relative to fully remote schooling is unknown. We conducted an event study using a retrospective nationwide cohort evaluating the effect of school mode on SARS-CoV-2 cases during the 12 weeks after school opening (July-September 2020, before the Delta variant was predominant), stratified by US Census region. After controlling for case rate trends before school start, state-level mitigation measures and community activity level, SARS-CoV-2 incidence rates were not statistically different in counties with in-person learning versus remote school modes in most regions of the United States. In the South, there was a significant and sustained increase in cases per week among counties that opened in a hybrid or traditional mode versus remote, with weekly effects ranging from 9.8 (95% confidence interval (CI)? = 2.7-16.1) to 21.3 (95% CI? = 9.9-32.7) additional cases per 100,000 persons, driven by increasing cases among 0-9 year olds and adults. Schools can reopen for in-person learning without substantially increasing community case rates of SARS-CoV-2; however, the impacts are variable. Additional studies are needed to elucidate the underlying reasons for the observed regional differences more fully.

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