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No link between schools reopening and COVID-19 spread, global study finds

There is no clear link between the reopening of schools and a country’s coronavirus infection rates according to a recent global analysis, which suggests that children are not the conduits for spreading the virus as some researchers first thought.

What are the details?

Insights for Education, an independent foundation based in Switzerland, studied 191 countries over a six month period and reported that “while opinion remains divided on when it is safe to reopen schools,” their “analysis shows no correlation between school reopening and a rise in COVID-19 infection rates.”

“It’s been assumed that reopening schools will drive infections, and that closing schools will reduce transmission,” IfE CEO Dr. Randa Gro-Zakhary said in a statement. “But the reality is much more complex.”

Reuters reported:

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IfE found that 52 countries that sent students back to school in August and September – including France and Spain – saw infection rates rise during the vacation compared to when they were closed.
In Britain and Hungary, however, infection levels dropped after initial school closures, remained low during the holidays, and began rising after reopening.
Full analysis of these 52 countries found no firm correlation between school status and infections – pointing to a need to consider other factors

“The analysis back up what scientists increasingly believe,” according to The Telegraph, “that children, initially thought to be major potential spreaders of coronavirus infection, do not appear to be playing that role. However, at the same time, there is a growing body of work showing the detrimental effects of keeping kids out of school across the globe.”

IfE warned that it is “vital to address ‘pandemic learning debt'” for some 711 million kids worldwide who remain out of the classroom, along with the children who have already returned to school but could face “further potential closures.”

Grob-Zakhary added, “It is fair to ask at this point, are the risks of staying out of education exceeding those of going back in?”

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