Covid-19 and schools

 

Sir, – In response to John Thompson’s letter (September 19th) on schools, the author fails to note that cases in schools are rising in line with cases generally and that evidence to date that schools are contributing to that rise is difficult to come by.

It is true that cases among school children are rising. Thus on August 31st, there were 120 cases among those aged between five and 14 years over the previous two weeks. This figure rose to 273 for the two weeks ending September 20th. This amounts to a rise in incidence of 2.275 times from three weeks earlier.

Yet for the general population the corresponding rise is 2.15 times – a very small difference indeed.

More pertinently, the rise in two-week incidence for children aged four and under, the vast majority of which are not in school settings, is actually higher (2.67 times), which suggests that whatever is driving the rise, it is not schools.

Overall, more than three weeks after schools have reopened, the share of infections among very young children and those aged five to 14 is almost identical – under two-thirds – what might be expected as a proportion of their share of the overall population (0.64 and 0.65 respectively).

The corresponding figure for those aged 15 to 24 is almost three times as high (1.71) and for those aged between 25 and 34 more than twice (1.37) that for children 14 years old and under.

It is, of course, early days, and the picture will become much clearer and more definitive within the next month or so.

Yet so far there is little credible evidence to support claims or fears that children attending schools are responsible for any significant rise in infection rates.

The “elephant in the room” Mr Thompson refers to looks increasingly like a mouse. – Yours, etc,

SEÁN L’ESTRANGE,

School of Sociology,

University College Dublin,

Dublin 4.