In-person schooling and associated COVID-19 risk in the U.S. 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.

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. 

Teacher masking was associated with the greatest risk reduction across all COVID-19–related outcomes, followed by daily symptom screens, universal student masking, and restricted entry (Fig. 4B).