An aggressive approach to reopening schools correlates with a rise in new per-capita coronavirus cases, according to new data from Moody’s Analytics.
Adam Kamins, senior regional economist at Moody’s Analytics, notes that there are compelling arguments on both sides of the debate to reopen schools. Many proponents of reopening point out that many students are left behind the curve when it comes to virtual learning — a sentiment echoed by parents and academics during the pandemic. However, Kamins points out that gathering hundreds if not thousands of students, teachers, and staff in a school building could put many at risk for contracting COVID-19.
“Nearly two months into the academic year in some areas, we are starting to see the results of decisions to reopen early. While the types of outbreaks that have forced entire buildings or districts to close have largely been avoided since early on in the academic year, the communities in which schools have aggressively reopened may be paying a price.”
According to Kamins, that price could be seen in an “alarming new wave of cases,” especially across the upper Midwest.
He points to the Dakotas as an example of states that look to be paying the price for aggressive school reopenings. Last week, North Dakota and South Dakota added more cases on a per capita basis than the New York City metro division did at the height of its outbreak back in March and April, according to Kamins.
The correlation between school reopenings and new infections is greater than 0.7, which would indicate a very strong statistical relationship, he added.
When it comes to reopening schools safely, Kamins tells Yahoo Finance that getting the pandemic under control before reopening school buildings is key.
“And we’ve seen even in New York City, they’ve been much more cautious, but schools have reopened there. And generally, you’re not seeing widespread outbreaks at this point. And I think to me what the data tells me is that you can safely reopen schools if you’ve gotten the virus under control through other mitigation measures beforehand.”
Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.