As Schools Reopen, Many Students, Staff Live With High-Risk Family Member

FRIDAY, Sept. 18, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- School districts across America are navigating exactly how to resume classes this fall, just as a new study warns that many students and teachers live in homes with people at high risk for severe COVID-19.

"For many school districts, decisions over whether and how to reopen will likely be revisited throughout the school year … [and] evidence regarding the health risks of adults with connections to schools is one piece of the puzzle," said the authors led by Thomas Selden, director of the division of research and modeling at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The researchers culled through data on more responses to the U.S. Medical Expenditure Panel Survey for 2014-2017, to find out how many people with underlying health issues had links to elementary or secondary schools, either as employees or because they lived in homes with school staff or school-aged children.

The study found that between 42% and 51.4% of all school employees had an increased risk for severe COVID-19.

Not only that, between 63% and 72% of school employees and between 59% and 71% of school-age children lived in households with at least one high-risk adult, according to the study published Sept. 17 online in the journal Health Affairs.

Overall, 35% of all adults had a direct or within-household connection to schools, including between 34 million and 44 million adults with increased risk for severe COVID-19, the researchers said in a journal news release.

The team also found that Black and white school staffers had substantial differences in potential risk of exposure. Among those with increased risk, Black and Hispanic adults were substantially more likely than whites to live in households with school-age children.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19.

SOURCE: Health Affairs, news release, Sept. 17, 2020

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