Story at a glance

  • At least 300 of the schools were carrying out some form of in-person instruction.
  • The researchers found that over a two-week period starting Aug. 31, about 0.23 percent of students and 0.49 percent of teachers were either confirmed or suspected of being infected with the coronavirus.
  • For confirmed cases only, only 0.078 percent of students were infected and just 0.15 percent of educators.

As many college campuses throughout the U.S. have experienced coronavirus outbreaks over the past several weeks, new preliminary data suggest that the virus may not be spreading as rapidly among K-12 students, according to The Washington Post

Researchers from Brown University released their first data set from the college’s COVID-19 School Response Data Dashboard Wednesday. 


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The college worked in collaboration with school administrators across the country to track coronavirus cases among students and teachers. The dashboard includes data from 550 schools across 46 states. At least 300 of the schools were carrying out some form of in-person instruction. 

The researchers found that over a two-week period starting Aug. 31, about 0.23 percent of students and 0.49 percent of teachers were either confirmed or suspected of being infected with the coronavirus. 

For confirmed cases only, only 0.078 percent of students were infected and just 0.15 percent of educators. The information for the dashboard is voluntarily reported by both public and private school districts that offer in-person classes, hybrid learning or remote learning. 

“These numbers will be, for some people, reassuring and suggest that school openings may be less risky than they expected,” Emily Oster, an economics professor at Brown University who helped create the tracker, told the Post. 

“I don’t think that these numbers say all places should open schools with no restrictions or anything that comes close to that. Ultimately, school districts are going to have different attitudes toward risk,” she said. 

The Post notes that most of the largest districts in the U.S. opened with remote learning, so the data includes many schools located in smaller communities. Meanwhile, inconsistent reporting in many parts of the country makes it difficult to fully understand the scope of the virus in schools that have been open for just a few weeks. It’s also not clear how policies such as mask-wearing have had an effect on schools. 


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Published on Sep 24, 2020