One thing that is going to make keeping schools open much harder is the phenomenon of superspreading. The spread of COVID-19 appears to be largely driven by a small number of people who result in most of the infections. So why does this affect school opening and closing?
If, within a school system, the occasional teacher contracts COVID-19, that probably wouldn’t lead to a shutdown. The testing and tracing systems both can handle a teacher and some of her students. But a single superspreading event among the faculty and staff, and many places will be overwhelmed. At that point, that school certainly needs to be closed.
But teachers don’t act in isolation. It’s one thing for the occasional teacher to get infected, but when the faculty show up on Monday, and by Friday, a huge swath tests positive, that’s when teachers in other schools leave–or at least, they should.
The potential good news is, if we were to lower the prevalence of COVID-19, we would have fewer infected teachers and staff–and fewer infected teachers and staff means fewer potential superspreading events.
If we want to reopen schools–and keep them open–then we have to crush the curve now. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be happening, so superspreading followed by possible teachers strikes it is.