In-person schooling and associated COVID-19 risk in the United States over Spring Semester 2021


Because of the importance of schools to childhood development, the relationship between in-person schooling and COVID-19 risk has been one of the most important questions of this pandemic. Previous work in the United States during winter 2020–2021 showed that in-person schooling carried some risk for household members and that mitigation measures reduced this risk. Schooling and the COVID-19 landscape changed radically over spring semester 2021. Here, we use data from a massive online survey to characterize changes in in-person schooling behavior and associated risks over that period. We find increases in in-person schooling and reductions in mitigations over time. In-person schooling is associated with increased reporting of COVID-19 outcomes even among vaccinated individuals (although the absolute risk among the vaccinated is greatly reduced). Vaccinated teachers working outside the home were less likely to report COVID-19–related outcomes than unvaccinated teachers working exclusively from home. Adequate mitigation measures appear to eliminate the excess risk associated with in-person schooling.

Elizabeth A. Stuart
Chair Department of Biostatistics | Professor

Trained as a statistician, my primary research interests are in the development and use of methodology to better design and analyze the causal effects of public health and educational interventions. In this way I hope to bridge statistical advances and research practice, working with mental health and educational researchers to identify and solve methodological challenges.