School Returns Go Better Than Expected

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In many countries, children have been going to school for more than a month. So far, fears the Delta coronavirus variant would prevent in-person learning have largely proven unfounded.

In twelve countries with high vaccination rates in Asia, Europe and the United States, case rates increased in August. Now, they have mostly fallen back, according to local data and officials.

It is unclear how much the decrease is due to a worldwide decline in cases, and how much it is linked to vaccinations and other measures. Public health experts say they will continue to watch for signs of an increase in cases as winter nears.

Monica Gandhi is a professor of medicine at University of California San Francisco Medical School.

“In the United States, in-school transmission is higher in places with low adult vaccination and no mitigation, but, overall, schools have stayed open,” Gandhi said.

Gandhi described the situation in schools as “going better than expected.”

Cases among children increased by nearly seven times in August. They reached their high in the first week of September, American Academy of Pediatrics data shows.

Only about 2 percent of U.S. schools have closed temporarily because of COVID-19 outbreaks. That information comes from research company Burbio.

Children represent the largest group of the unvaccinated in most wealthy countries. That is because either vaccinations for their age group have only just begun, or are not yet approved.

Public health experts suggest rising vaccinations, mitigation measures in schools and a broader decrease in community cases are helping.

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