Based upon current infection rates, Scott County could have as many as 60 students arrive at school on the first day with COVID-19, according to a database published by The New York Times and developed by a research team at the University of Texas.

The NYT’s chart estimates Scott County Schools would have one infected person for a school of 100 students, four for a school of 500 students and eight for a school of 1,000 students. Both high schools — Scott County High and Great Crossing High — have 1,500 students or more. The middle schools typically have 500-to-750 students and the elementary schools have 350-to-500 students. This chart would also apply to area private schools`.

Scott County Schools expect to have more than 10,000 students this fall. The number of students opting for virtual or pencil and packet is not known, but should be released soon.

“It’s meant to be a guide for schools so they can anticipate when it might be safe, or easier, to open and bring kids in,” said Lauren Ancel Meyers, an epidemiologist at the University of Texas, who led the research team.

The projects are rough guidelines based upon the estimated prevalence of the virus in Scott County, which is drawn from a NYT’s database of cases, and estimates that five people may be infected for each known case. Those estimates reflect current levels of infection around the country and are likely to change, improving or getting worse depending upon the situation in each community, reports the NYT.

As of July 30, Scott County has experienced double digit cases for six straight days, including 25 last Friday. During that six-day period Scott County’s had 92 confirmed cases, pushing its total to 310 cases with eight hospitalizations, according to the WEDCO Health District. Some 122 of those cases have recovered.

The estimates assume children are as likely to carry and transmit the virus as adults — “a large assumption, given the unknowns about children,” said Spencer Fox, a research team member.

Carl T. Bergstrom, a professor of biology at the University of Washington, pointed out that some studies suggest children are infected less, or that young children do not transmit the disease as readily, which obviously reduces the risk.

Even so, the database helps put things into context for parents, Bergstrom said.

“Anything that could help you do that both helps you make better decisions and offers a level of comfort and assurance,” he said.

Scott County Schools have designated Aug. 26 as the first day of school — almost three weeks away. Students and parents have the option of in-person classes, virtual classes or pencil and paper packets when school starts. The school system has conducted multiple surveys with parents and teachers and Superintendent Dr. Kevin Hub has participated in multiple virtual town hall meetings answering questions and explaining the new protocols this fall. Masks will be required, there will be temperature checks, water fountains will be closed and teachers will have the option to take “healthy breaks” outside to help the transition to masks when school starts, Hub said.

 

Mike Scogin can be reached at mscogin@news-graphic.com.

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