Schools need to reopen. The question is: can we do it safely? The recent case in Georgia, where nearly 1,200 students and staff members have been ordered to quarantine, exposed several issues with reopening plans. Understandably, schools have been forced to prepare to online education with big challenges in technological inequality and access, as well as plans to return to face-to-face education. Several stakeholders offered different suggestions, complicating even more the situation. However, there is consensus around three key tools to reduce Covid-19 spread: physical distancing, contact tracing, and quarantines for those exposed.

Schools need to reopen. The question is: can we do it safely?

A number of mathematical simulations for COVID-19 are available, and all of them agree that three of the most important interventions are physical distance (with masks), contact tracing, and effective use of quarantine to prevent further spread. Some models are too simplified for scientific use, but invaluable to make information accessible. Few allow interactivity, and the videos below are from grid simulations using Kevin Simler’s tool. Each square represents one person, and the legend is in the video. In the initial frames, the infected is a light pink which contaminates people who can transmit to others before or after having symptoms (red), and eventually recover (grey). The blue squares represent people who self-quarantined, and do not transmit to others outside their households.

 

The simulations in the video clearly show that each added intervention further reduces the effective reproduction number (R). R represents the average number of secondary cases per infectious case in a population made up of both susceptible and non-susceptible hosts. In other words, how many people will get infected from someone infected in real world conditions.

BeAiware offers a solution which focuses on the three most important interventions beside the use of masks, with proximity alerts, contact tracing, and quarantine monitoring. You can know more of our solution in this short video (< 2min).