There is currently an active discussion on what schools should do this coming Fall. I agree that the decision should be based on evidence. The burden of proof rests on school closures since the negative impact of children staying home is crystal clear. The mere fact that caretakers and health-care workers are stifled by school closures is very important to consider especially when hospitals and homes for the elderly are already facing difficult times. Whether school closures are effective in reducing the transmission of the novel coronavirus needs to be addressed. And it is to this question that research can provide an answer. Without any benefit of helping control the spread of COVID-19, school closure is simply damaging society. With almost half a year and more than a hundred countries affected, we have data that can help measure the effect of school closures on mitigating COVID-19. At this moment, research shows that school closures have little or no significant impact on the pandemic. This is, of course, in agreement with what we are seeing right now in the US. Schools are closed and yet, the number of cases continues to grow, a clear indication that the virus is spreading primarily in a manner so different from influenza. Thus, our previous understanding of how school closures help stop the spread of flu is very likely not applicable in the case of COVID-19. A recent study from Japan concludes that school closures in that country had no effect on the spread of COVID-19.
There is therefore no scientific basis on keeping schools closed to contain the novel coronavirus.
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