2022 journal article
Modeling the Impact of Nonpharmaceutical Interventions on COVID-19 Transmission in K-12 Schools
MDM POLICY & PRACTICE, 7(2).
Background. The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 spread across the world causing many waves of COVID-19. Children were at high risk of being exposed to the disease because they were not eligible for vaccination during the first 20 mo of the pandemic in the United States. While children 5 y and older are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, vaccination rates remain low despite most schools returning to in-person instruction. Nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) are important for controlling the spread of COVID-19 in K-12 schools. US school districts used varied and layered mitigation strategies during the pandemic. The goal of this article is to analyze the impact of different NPIs on COVID-19 transmission within K-12 schools. Methods. We developed a deterministic stratified SEIR model that captures the role of social contacts between cohorts in disease transmission to estimate COVID-19 incidence under different NPIs including masks, random screening, contact reduction, school closures, and test-to-stay. We designed contact matrices to simulate the contact patterns between students and teachers within schools. We estimated the proportion of susceptible infected associated with each intervention over 1 semester under the Omicron variant. Results. We find that masks and reducing contacts can greatly reduce new infections among students. Weekly screening tests also have a positive impact on disease mitigation. While self-quarantining symptomatic infections and school closures are effective measures for decreasing semester-end infections, they increase absenteeism. Conclusion. The model provides a useful tool for evaluating the impact of a variety of NPIs on disease transmission in K-12 schools. While the model is tested under Omicron variant parameters in US K-12 schools, it can be adapted to study other populations under different disease settings. Highlights A stratified SEIR model was developed that captures the role of social contacts in K-12 schools to estimate COVID-19 transmission under different nonpharmaceutical interventions. While masks, random screening, contact reduction, school closures, and test-to-stay are all beneficial interventions, masks and contact reduction resulted in the greatest reduction in new infections among students from the tested scenarios. Layered interventions provide more benefits than implementing interventions independently.