Effects of school-based measures during the COVID-19 pandemic (search done on 9 December 2020)

Added January 20, 2022

Citation: Krishnaratne S, Littlecott H, Sell K, et al. Measures implemented in the school setting to contain the COVID-19 pandemic: a rapid review. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2022;(1):CD015029.

Language: Abstract available in EN / ES / FR; Plain language summary available in EN / ES / FR; Full text available in EN.

Free to view: Yes.

What is this? During the COVID-19 pandemic, various measures have been put in place in schools to try to reduce spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

In this Cochrane rapid review, which was informed by an earlier scoping review that is summarized here, the authors searched for studies of the effects of measures implemented in schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. They did not restrict their searches by date, type or language of publication and did the search on 9 December 2020. They included 38 unique studies in the analysis, which were modelling studies (33), observational studies (3), quasi‐experimental (1) and experimental with modelling components (1). They did a top‐up search in August 2021 and identified 16 novel studies that are awaiting classification.

What was found: At the time of this review, the evidence from the included studies suggested that a broad range of measures implemented in the school setting can reduce the transmission of SARS‐CoV‐2 and improve the use of health care related to COVID‐19. However, the certainty of the evidence for most intervention‐outcome combinations was very low.

At the time of this review, the included studies showed that measures implemented in the school setting may limit the number or proportion of cases and deaths, and may delay the progression of the pandemic but they may also lead to negative unintended consequences, such as fewer days spent in school (beyond those intended by the intervention).

At the time of this review, the included studies that assessed measures to reduce contacts and to make contacts safer consistently predicted reduction in transmission and improved use of health care, but they may reduce the number of days students spent at school.

At the time of this review, the included studies that assessed surveillance and response measures predicted reductions in hospitalisations and school days missed due to infection or quarantine, but the evidence on the resources needed for surveillance was mixed.


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