Reopening Florida schools followed by uptick in COVID-19 infections, Ben-Gurion U. study

Newswise — BEER-SHEVA, Israel...January 5, 2021 - Reopening Florida elementary and high schools in September was followed by increased COVID-19 infections, according to data analyzed by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Harvard Medical School and Tel Aviv University researchers.

The findings were just published in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Florida is one of the few states that provides incidence of infections by exact age and county.

Comparing schools that reopened with those that remained closured, the researchers discovered infections had risen nearly 30 percent in high school children ages 14-17. The increase was lower--around 20 percent--in infection rates among the elementary school children ages 6-13.

Study lead author Oren Miron, a Ph.D. student in the BGU Department of Health Systems Management tracked data from 10 days prior to 20 days after reopening. He is a student of Prof. Davidovitch who heads the department and is a member of the team of experts advising the Israeli government on its COVID-19 policy.

"Our analysis has implications for countries trying to determine whether to keep physical schools open as they battle rising infection rates," Miron says. "Vaccines will not be given to children initially, so managing infection rates through temporary remote learning is of paramount importance."

"The education system plays a critical role in children's cognitive and emotional development," says Prof. Davidovitch. "Therefore, the required resources should be invested in the system during the difficult times in which we find ourselves."

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Additional researchers include: Kun-Hsing Yu and Zak Kohane of the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School, and Rachel Wilf-Miron of the School of Public Health at Tel Aviv University.

Chart of physical vs. remote Covid-9 incidents https://imagelibrary.bgu.ac.il/pf.tlx/titREtYFKVy

Photo of Oren Miron: https://imagelibrary.bgu.ac.il/pf.tlx/pwpl3pNPu0Ff
Photo Credit: Ronen Akerman

About American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (AABGU) plays a vital role in sustaining David Ben-Gurion's vision: creating a world-class institution of education and research in the Israeli desert, nurturing the Negev community and sharing the University's expertise locally and around the globe. Activities include showcasing BGU's academic excellence and cutting-edge research through educational programs, events and informative communications. AABGU's main purpose is to support Ben-Gurion's vision and the university that bears his name by creating a community of Americans committed to improving the world tomorrow from the heart of the Israeli desert today. For more information visit http://www.aabgu.org.

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