CRPE – Is it Safe to Reopen Schools? An Extensive Review of the Research, John Bailey March 2021 – One year after nationwide public school closures, a growing body of medical research and the firsthand experiences of school systems worldwide can provide a sound basis for determining a reopening strategy. This report examines the collective findings of more than 120 studies and considers their implications for current decisions. These studies cover a wide array of topics, including risks for children, transmissibility concerns, and the impact of school reopenings on community spread. Key Findings:
- The vast majority of research from around the world suggests that children comprise a small proportion of diagnosed COVID-19 cases, develop less severe illness, and have lower mortality rates.
- Studies suggest attending school does not increase risk to children, particularly if health protocols are followed.
- Evidence points to schools mirroring the transmission rates of their communities. Schools themselves do not appear to drive community transmission.
- Protective measures such as mask wearing, physically distancing, increasing hygiene regimens, and improving ventilation add layers of protection that can mitigate risks for students and school staff.
- COVID-19 vaccinations, symptomatic testing and isolating potentially infected individuals, and asymptomatic COVID-19 screening tests offer additional preventative benefits.
- Any public health benefit gained from school closures must be weighed against the significant—and potentially lasting—costs imposed on individual students and society as a whole.
- A growing body of research suggests children face greater health risks due to missed health screenings, food insecurity, and mental health challenges.
- Severe learning loss for many children, particularly children of color, will lead to lower educational attainment and lower future earnings…”