Did Closing Down Schools Decrease COVID-19 Incidence and Mortality?

An interesting article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA, published online July 29, 2020, reviewed the association between school closure and the reduction of spread of coronavirus, COVID-19.

The study found that school closure was associated with a significant decline in the incidence of COVID-19 and mortality.  It also found that both of these associations were largest in states with a low cumulative incidence of COVID-19 at the time of school closure.  For example, states with the lowest incidence of COVID-19 had a -72% relative change in incidence compared with -49% for those states with the highest cumulative incidence.

The paper showed that closing schools when the cumulative incidence of COVID-19 was in the lowest quartile compared with the highest quartile was associated with 128.7 fewer cases per 100,000 population over 26 days and with 1.5 fewer deaths per 100,000 population over 16 days.

They concluded that between March 9 and May 7 2020, school closure in the US was temporarily associated with a decreased COVID-19 incidence and mortality, and when states closed schools earlier, where the cumulative incidence of COVID-19 was low, they had the largest relative reduction in incidence and mortality.

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