Reactive or Proactive: Fairfax County Schools' Decision-Making
When schools should close is an important question. Unfortunately, the data we currently have are on influenza so it would take a leap of faith to assume that it likewise applies to the coronavirus. The most familiar figure we have seen these days regarding epidemics is the following graph:
|Copied from CDC
It is a figure that tells us how nonpharmaceutical interventions like washing one's hands regularly, keeping social distance, can squeeze the pandemic curve, resulting in a lower peak and a slower rate of infection, which avoids overrunning a community's health infrastructure. The graph does relay an important message, but it is not a quantitative graph. The figure is not even based on an actual study. Here is what we know in the case of influenza, and specifically, how school closures affect the epidemic:
|Above copied from
With influenza, the mean reduction of the peak than can be attributed to school closure is 29.65%. School closures both reduce and delay the epidemic peak for influenza. The longer the duration of the closure the greater the reduction in the epidemic. "Implementing school closure before or after the epidemic reaches its peak reduced the overall influenza epidemic."
Combined with what local health officials tell us, these are the grounds upon which decisions should be made. These decisions cannot be made based on the likes or dislikes one receives on social media.