Data-Driven Reopening of Urban Public Education Through Chicago's Tracking of COVID-19 School Transmission
Reopening in-person education in public schools during the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic requires careful risk-benefit analysis, with no current established metrics. Equity concerns in urban public schools such as decreased enrollment among largely Black and Latinx prekindergarten and special needs public school students already disproportionately impacted by the pandemic itself have added urgency to Chicago Department of Public Health's analysis of COVID-19 transmission. Close tracking within a large school system revealed a lower attack rate for students and staff participating in in-person learning than for the community overall. By combining local data from a large urban private school system with national and international data on maintaining in-person learning during COVID-19 surges, Chicago believes in-person public education poses a low risk of transmission when the operational burden imposed by the second wave has subsided.