Researchers in the United States estimated that suspending face-to-face classes saved the lives of more than 40,000 Americans during the Covid-19 pandemic. In an article, published on Wednesday (29) by the magazine “JAMA”, they estimated that the measure also prevented more than 1 million new infections.
“School closings may be associated with approximately 1.37 million fewer Covid-19 cases over a 26-day period. It can also relate to 40,600 fewer deaths in 16 days,” the scientists wrote.
Many US states suspended school activities in early March. In the USA, where the school year runs from September to June, scientists surveyed all 50 states between March and May 2020 to build a mathematical projection.
For six weeks, the researchers collected data on the closings of educational institutions and crossed the information with public health databases. With the numbers in hand, the scientists developed a model that pointed out the spreading trends of the disease.
“Between March 9 and May 7, the closure of schools was associated with a drop in the incidence of Covid-19 and its mortality,” wrote the scientists. “States that closed earlier have seen a greater reduction in these rates.”
The article also addressed the role of children in transmitting Sars-Cov-2. According to the researchers, they can transmit the disease to adults and members of the risk group. Less susceptible to the virus, asymptomatic children have already been identified as carrying the virus.
Other important measures
The study authors have not ruled out the importance of other measures adopted by the states to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. However, according to them, it is not clear whether the actions alone would have prevented the deaths if schools remained open.
“It is possible that transmission in schools has also been mitigated with the recommendations of the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics, which include frequent hand cleaning, universal use of masks and physical distance,” said the study.