A Huge COVID-19 Natural Experiment Is Underway
The experiment is happening in classrooms
For parents and teachers, the reopening of schools has been a chaotic mess. Guidelines and procedures seem to change daily. Classroom policies or even whether in-person learning occurs at all depends on where you live and often the politics of who sits in the governor’s mansion.
But for epidemiologists, this fall is proving to be a scientific bonanza of sorts. “The opening of schools is a tremendous opportunity for natural experiments to understand transmission,” said Tina Hartert, a pediatric epidemiologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Researchers like Hartert want to know how effectively this coronavirus spreads, how much of a risk children and teenagers pose for transmitting the virus, and whether any of the measures that schools are taking right now—from staggered schedules to new ventilation systems to chemically disinfecting the desks—make a difference.
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