School Reopenings, Mobility, and COVID-19 Spread: Evidence from Texas
School Reopenings, Mobility, and COVID-19 Spread: Evidence from Texas

Charles Courtemanche
University of Kentucky

Anh Le

Aaron Yelowitz
University of Kentucky

Ron Zimmer

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Abstract: According to the findings, additional cases tracked after students began returning to schools represented 12% of the state’s total cases during the eight weeks after reopening and 17% of deaths. Researchers considered possible explanations for the additional spread. First, school re-openings in Texas generally occurred under particularly conducive conditions for in-school transmission. Community spread was often already high, and many schools returned with nearly full in-person attendance that likely made social distancing difficult. However, adults’ behavioral responses to schools reopening may also have played a role. Utilizing cell-phone-based mobility data, the authors found that time spent outside the home by adults on a typical weekday increased substantially in neighborhoods with large numbers of school-age children after schools re-opened.

Published: May, 2021

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