BACKGROUND: Our goal was to determine the county-level effect of in-person primary and secondary school reopening on daily cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in Indiana. METHODS: In this county-level, population-based study, we used a panel data regression analysis of the proportion of in-person learning to evaluate an association with community-wide daily new SARS-CoV-2 cases. The study period was 12 July 2020-6 October 2020. We included 73 of 92 (79.3%) Indiana counties in the analysis, accounting for 85.7% of school corporations and 90.6% of student enrollment statewide. The primary exposure was the proportion of students returning to in-person instruction. The primary outcome was the daily new SARS-CoV-2 cases per 100 000 residents at the county level. RESULTS: There is a statistically significant relationship between the proportion of students attending K-12 schools in-person and the county level daily cases of SARS-CoV-2 28 days later. For all ages, the coefficient of interest (β) is estimated at 3.36 (95% confidence interval, 1.91 to 4.81; P < .001). This coefficient represents the effect of a change in the proportion of students attending in-person on new daily cases 28 days later. For example, a 10 percentage point increase in K-12 students attending school in-person is associated with a daily increase in SARS-CoV-2 cases in the county equal to 0.336 cases/100 000 residents of all ages. CONCLUSIONS: In-person primary and secondary school is associated with a statistically significant but proportionally small increase in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 cases.
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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Microbiology (medical)
- Infectious Diseases