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Faculty Fellow Justin Lessler, PhD is co-author of a new study published in Science Advances on “In-person schooling and associated COVID-19 risk in the United States over spring semester 2021.”

Because of the importance of schools to childhood development, the relationship between in-person schooling and COVID-19 risk has been one of the most important questions of this pandemic. Previous work in the United States during the winter of 2020–21 showed that in-person schooling carried some risk for household members and that mitigation measures reduced this risk. Schooling and the COVID-19 landscape changed radically over the spring semester 2021.

In this study, the team used data from a massive online survey to characterize changes in in-person schooling behavior and associated risks over that period. They found increases in in-person schooling and reductions in mitigations over time. In-person schooling was associated with increased reporting of COVID-19 outcomes, even among vaccinated individuals (although the absolute risk among the vaccinated was greatly reduced). Vaccinated teachers working outside the home were less likely to report COVID-19–related outcomes than unvaccinated teachers working exclusively from home. Adequate mitigation measures appear to eliminate the excess risk associated with in-person schooling.

Read the full study online.