NYC Schools Aren’t Covid Super-Spreaders, City Study Finds

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In-person learning in New York City’s public schools was not associated with increased Covid-19 infections compared with the general community, according to a peer-reviewed study released Wednesday.

The study, led by senior health adviser Jay Varma and published in the Pediatrics medical journal, provides data to back up claims by city officials that school buildings are among the safest places in New York.

The country’s largest public-school system, which opened in-person learning to elementary schools and middle schools before other big cities did, provides a case study for school systems nationwide that are still weighing whether to resume in-person instruction. New York City, which has 1.1 million students, on Monday said it will reopen its high school buildings on March 22.

The study found that only 0.4% of 234,132 students and teachers in 1,594 schools tested positive for Covid over a three-month period, showing that “Covid prevalence in schools was similar to or less than estimates of prevalence in the community,” the study said.

The study was conducted between October 9 and December 18, before new, more transmissible variants were prevalent in the city. On Wednesday, health officials said the variants accounted for 51% of New York City Covid cases and were more infectious than older versions of the disease.

“Evidence has recently emerged that in-person schooling can be conducted in a way that minimizes Covid-19 transmission among students and staff and that the harms of school closure might outweigh a potential benefit in reducing community transmission,” the study said.

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