The Association of Opening K-12 Schools and Colleges with the Spread of COVID-19 in the United States: County-Level Panel Data Analysis

41 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2021

See all articles by Victor Chernozhukov

Victor Chernozhukov

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics

Hiroyuki Kasahara

University of British Columbia, Vancouver School of Economics

Paul Schrimpf

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Vancouver School of Economics

Date Written: 2021

Abstract

This paper empirically examines how the opening of K-12 schools and colleges is associated with the spread of COVID-19 using county-level panel data in the United States. Using data on foot traffic and K-12 school opening plans, we analyze how an increase in visits to schools and opening schools with different teaching methods (in-person, hybrid, and remote) is related to the 2-weeks forward growth rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Our debiased panel data regression analysis with a set of county dummies, interactions of state and week dummies, and other controls shows that an increase in visits to both K-12 schools and colleges is associated with a subsequent increase in case growth rates. The estimates indicate that fully opening K-12 schools with in-person learning is associated with a 5 (SE = 2) percentage points increase in the growth rate of cases. We also find that the positive association of K-12 school visits or in-person school openings with case growth is stronger for counties that do not require staff to wear masks at schools. These results have a causal interpretation in a structural model with unobserved county and time confounders. Sensitivity analysis shows that the baseline results are robust to timing assumptions and alternative specifications.

Suggested Citation

Chernozhukov, Victor and Kasahara, Hiroyuki and Schrimpf, Paul, The Association of Opening K-12 Schools and Colleges with the Spread of COVID-19 in the United States: County-Level Panel Data Analysis (2021). CESifo Working Paper No. 8929, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3804533

Victor Chernozhukov (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.mit.edu/~vchern/

Hiroyuki Kasahara

University of British Columbia, Vancouver School of Economics ( email )

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Vancouver, British Columbia BC V6T 1L4
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://https://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/hkasahara/

Paul Schrimpf

University of British Columbia (UBC) - Vancouver School of Economics ( email )

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Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1
Canada

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