Household COVID-19 risk and in-person schooling

Lessler J, Grabowski MK, Grantz KH, Badillo-Goicoechea E, Metcalf CJE, Lupton-Smith C, Azman AS, Stuart EA

In-person schooling has proved contentious and difficult to study throughout the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic. Data from a massive online survey in the United States indicate an increased risk of COVID-19-related outcomes among respondents living with a child attending school in person. School-based mitigation measures are associated with significant reductions in risk, particularly daily symptoms screens, teacher masking, and closure of extracurricular activities. A positive association between in-person schooling and COVID-19 outcomes persists at low levels of mitigation, but when seven or more mitigation measures are reported, a significant relationship is no longer observed. Among teachers, working outside the home was associated with an increase in COVID-19-related outcomes, but this association is similar to that observed in other occupations (e.g., health care or office work). Although in-person schooling is associated with household COVID-19 risk, this risk can likely be controlled with properly implemented school-based mitigation measures.