A new study from the University of Notre Dame shows just how important COVID-19 precautions are, especially in schools.
The new study found having safety precautions in place are essential to keeping kids in school.
For the fall semester, schools had to choose in-person instruction, virtual classes or a combination of the two. Researchers found that safety measures like masks and social distancing in schools are vital in preventing thousands of infections and deaths among Hoosiers.
Epidemiologist Alex Perkins conducted the study by looking at the effect going back to school had on the coronavirus in Indiana. Researchers looked at things like capacity limits and mask wearing at different percentage rates.
According to the study, schools that opened at full capacity without enforcing mask mandates led to a projected 2.49 million infections and 9,117 deaths by the end of the year.
Schools that elected for 100% virtual instruction or 50% capacity and wore masks led to an estimated 19,527 infections and 360 deaths.
“It does illustrate that we could be preventing on the order of thousands of deaths among Hoosiers this fall based on the types of things that are taking place,” said Perkins.
Researchers said social distancing in the classroom looks to the one of the biggest factors in preventing the spread of coronavirus. Most deaths would involve parents and teachers since children are less likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19.
Perkins said the study emphasizes how important it is to have precautions at school to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the community. It also shows how important it is to take precautions outside of school as well.
“The important thing to keep in mind is that it’s not just limited to that,” said Perkins. “The idea is if there is transmission happening in schools to a great extent, that could spill over into the community and cause chains of transmission that go out elsewhere and affect those that are more vulnerable.”
Perkins says the study isn’t meant to scare but emphasize how important it is to take precautions and follow them.
Many schools are keeping track of their own COVID-19 cases—and the state is still working on a dashboard to share that data publicly.
For now, the state has a color-coded map to measure the spread of COVID-19 on a county-by-county basis. As of its last update, no counties were in the red category that signifies high community spread.