Bonus: Some Good School News

A UK government study on coronavirus spread in schools has some good news

There is no regularly scheduled newsletter for today but some good news came out of the UK that I wanted to share. This comes from Emily Oster’s newsletter (which you can subscribe to here).

The report is a comprehensive one covering all schools (which is one benefit of having a centralised national system).

Here is what she writes:

The structure of the study is simple. They have information on kids enrolled and on staff, by school age. They record cases, both individual cases (like, someone in the school was sick) and “outbreaks” which they defined as at least 2 cases together. And then they report the results. They attempted to infer the source of the infection in most cases, to identify whether it was likely the infection was acquired at school.

Since you will ask: the precautions used here include distancing and bubbles but typically did not require masks.

The whole report is worth reading in detail, but I’ll pull out some highlights.

  • For the month of June, there were an average of 843,430 student and 519,590 staff per day at schools (including teaching and non-teaching staff).

  • The study records 70 cases in students and 128 cases in staff, for a monthly rate of 0.008% in students and 0.02% in staff.

  • 30 of the 70 student cases and 37 of the 128 staff cases were individual cases which did not seem to be acquired at school. For most of the rest it was unclear how infection was acquired, although there were several cases with clear in-school transmission. This was mostly staff-to-staff.

  • Outbreaks are clearly correlated with regional incidence, which is not surprising, although it is notable that London did not have any outbreaks.

The paper does a very nice job walking through all of the outbreaks and trying to map out where they might have come from and the direction of transmission.

The news here is that this is a much better outcome than many would have expected. To be sure, it does not cover winter months which means kids may have been outside more but this is England so …

Anyhow, here is the chart you might want to examine closely:

Schools weren’t all open during this time and some opened as the month went along. This, of course, provides an opportunity for some more sophisticated statistical analysis. If you want to do that, the data is here.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the usual, regularly scheduled newsletter.