MSU study: COVID-19 isn’t spreading in schools

High schools allowed to return to in-person learning
Michigan schools aren't seeing COVID spreading in the classroom.
Michigan schools aren't seeing COVID spreading in the classroom.(WILX)
Published: Dec. 25, 2020 at 3:32 PM EST
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - In-person learning is now allowed in K-12 schools across Michigan.

Restrictions on high school instruction were lifted Monday.

A study from Michigan State University proves what school districts and local health departments were already finding: COVID-19 isn’t spreading inside the building.

“At low to moderate levels of pre-existing COVID in the community, being in schools does not seem to contribute to COVID spread,” said Katharine Strunk, MSU Education Policy Innovation Collaborative director.

Strunk looked at the data from schools across Michigan and Washington.

They were broken into three categories based on their back to learning: online, hybrid, or in-person.

“In Michigan, we find that hybrid schooling is never associated with COVID spread,” said Strunk.

However, this study does have some limitations.

Strunk said this study only looks at the school environment and not other factors.

“This doesn’t address all the other logistical challenges that come with it. It’s not easy to figure out how to implement social distancing, how you implement mitigation practices,” said Strunk.

And that’s the battle mid-Michigan schools are dealing with.

Michigan Center Schools superintendent Brady Cook said they anticipated staffing challenges before the school year started.

“We hired permanent subs in every building in our district in advance of the school year knowing we would have to use them often and that has saved us,” said Cook.

Strunk said schools can take this information and apply it to their communities.

“It’s how you come back into school buildings and how you open in-person matters. The first thing we need to think about is the safety of our students and our school staff,” said Strunk.

That means schools need to continue to follow the guidelines about mask-wearing and social distancing.

The state is leaving it up to individual school districts if they are heading back to in-person learning after winter break.

President-elect Joe Biden has said he plans to open K-12 schools during his first 100 days in office.

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