Colleges and universities that reopened for face-to-face instruction might have caused tens of thousands of additional cases of Covid-19 in recent weeks, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Indiana University, the University of Washington and Davidson College.
The researchers estimated that an extra 3,200 cases a day occurred in the U.S. that likely wouldn’t have happened had schools kept classes online.
The team behind the report, slated to be posted online Tuesday on the preprint server medRxiv, included professors of epidemiology, health economics and higher education. The manuscript has yet to be peer-reviewed.
“We’re not saying it was a terrible mistake to open,” said Ana Bento, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at Indiana University and co-author of the study. “Just that the influx of individuals, which was much greater where there is face-to-face [instruction], is correlated with a larger increase in cases.”
She added: “Decisions to reopen are far more complex than just the question of, ‘Will cases increase or not?’ ”