CDC: School Closures Might Need to Be Longer to Combat the Coronavirus

Handwashing and home isolation are still most effective at slowing down COVID-19.

CDC: School Closures Might Need to Be Longer to Combat the Coronavirus

Although many school districts across the nation have announced they are closing schools for two or three weeks in response to COVID-19, according to new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), schools might need to close for eight weeks or longer to more effectively mitigate the impacts of the virus.

That being said, the latest CDC guidance says that handwashing and home isolation still appear to be more effective at slowing down the spread of the coronavirus.

“Available modeling data indicate that early, short to medium closures do not impact the epi curve of COVID-19 or available health care measures (e.g., hospitalizations),” the guidance said in reference to school closures. “There may be some impact of much longer closures (8 weeks, 20 weeks) further into community spread, but that modelling also shows that other mitigation efforts (e.g., handwashing, home isolation) have more impact on both spread of disease and health care measures. In other countries, those places who closed school (e.g., Hong Kong) have not had more success in reducing spread than those that did not (e.g., Singapore).”

The challenges with closing schools are significant. Social mixing may still occur outside of school, and school officials would have less ability to monitor those interactions, especially among older students. Additionally, it will increase the risk to older adults of exposure to COVID-19. Nearly 40% of U.S. grandparents provide childcare for their grandchildren. School closures will likely increase this percentage.

The interruption of services provided by K-12 campuses to students — such as meals, social services, physical and mental health services and after school programs – is another issue. Parents will also be affected because of the costs of childcare and lost wages. Even parents who telework could reduce their productivity.

For K-12 districts offering distance learning, some students might not be able to participate because they don’t have computers or internet access at home, even if they are provided by the school.

Read the guidance.

About the Author

Robin Hattersley Gray
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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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