The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and the Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) have released a new report exploring how to minimize COVID-19 in schools and mitigate its spread in schools and the community.
Key findings from IDM’s new report include:
- K‐5 is at lower risk of introductions compared to middle and high schools, and the K‐5 phase‐in approach has a 25% lower introduction rate compared to a full 5‐day‐per‐week schedule.
- High schools are more likely to have large outbreaks than elementary or middle schools due to reduced ability to maintain stable cohorts or groups of students, larger school size, and older students who are likely more susceptible to infection.
- Vaccines against COVID-19 provide high levels of protection to recipients, but because students are likely to be a main source of introductions, vaccinating all staff will not prevent COVID from entering schools. Vaccinating staff can also reduce the size of typical outbreaks, but the impact is less than other countermeasures.
- Many interventions can limit transmission among students, teachers, and staff within schools, and outbreaks will be small if countermeasures are sufficient to limit in-school transmission.