New Study of COVID-19 In Schools Shows Good News
If you’re a new parent and also a nerd, there is a good chance that you were gifted Expecting Better sometime shortly after you or your spouse announced the pregnancy. It’s a great book. In it, Brown University economist Emily Oster breaks down the studies that much of parenting advice are based on and gives practical, data-informed advice on what to do and not do. (For new parents, her follow up book Cribsheet, is great too.)
The general message of both books is that there are a small number of things that parents should be very concerned about, but that the risks of many other things are overstated, often because people let emotion take precedence over empirical evidence.
It shouldn’t surprise us that when the coronavirus hit, Emily Oster would try to cut through the noise and the fear and get to the data. She partnered with the nation’s school administrator organizations to create an anonymous survey and then distributed it to school principals so they could report how many of their students and their staff have been infected by the coronavirus.
The first round of data has been released, and the numbers are promising. As of September 25, administrators report a confirmed infection rate of 75 cases per 100,000 students and 140 per 100,000 staff members. Expressed as a percentage, that is 0.075 percent of children and 0.14 percent of staff.
As an associate professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins is quoted as saying in the Washington Post’s coverage of the survey, “We’re not seeing schools as crucibles for onward transmission. It’s reasonable to say that it looks promising at this point.”
It is early days, of course, and Oster will be continuously updating the data dashboard. It is also worth nothing that the first round of data is only from administrators responsible for around 200,000 of the nation’s 55 million schoolchildren. But, in a time of seemingly nothing but bad news, its good to see that least something is going well. Hopefully these trends continue and we can get our kids back in school and back on track.