Studies come to mixed conclusion on safety of in-person learning

Undated photo of students at a Colorado Springs school.
Undated photo of students at a Colorado Springs school.(KKTV)
Published: Feb. 3, 2021 at 9:14 AM MST
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(KKTV) - How safe in-person learning is has been one of the biggest questions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Districts nationwide have grappled with difficult choices since the virus gripped the nation last March, weighing the benefits of being in a classroom against preventing virus spread. A pair of studies done by the Centers for Disease Control suggest the safety of students may depend on the size of the school.

In comparing the two studies, rural schools were found to have very few COVID-19 outbreaks. When schools in more urban areas were brought into the mix, they proved to be the source of far more cases.

In short, the evidence says schools in rural areas aren’t likely superspreader sites for COVID-19, but urban schools appear far less safe, with more outbreaks tying back to them.

Both studies were done in a single state -- Wisconsin -- and were done at different times of the year. Study one was done at 17 rural schools, where no staff and just seven student cases were tied back to the school.

A much larger, statewide study found nearly 6,000 cases, or 14 percent of the state’s total cases at that time, tied back to the schools.

The study noted contact tracing challenges and a lack of widespread testing may have impacted the way the numbers turned out.

In Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis has been a proponent of in-person learning, repeatedly backing the stance that it’s safe here to have in-person learning. Locally in Colorado Springs, most districts are offering some form of on-campus learning.

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