“School is starting,” Katelyn Jetelina writes over at Your Local Epidemiologist, in a robust roundup of issues including vaccines, masks and ventilation. “And, with it, the contentious debate on what schools should and should not do. While the pandemic ravages on, the landscape continues to morph, and because of that, every subsequent school year has looked very different (hopefully for the better).Unfortunately, student absences continue. As seen in London, students absences continue to be higher than before the pandemic. They were especially high at the end of this school year when BA.5 took hold. We know this is partially driven by reinfections, as children have the highest reinfection rate compared to any other age group. It’s imperative that schools remain open, but they continue to seem stuck between ‘do everything’ and ‘do nothing.’ How many layers can a school feasibly implement given pandemic fatigue, limited resources, strong opinions, and differing risk calibrations?The answer is multi-level; it requires a balance of tradeoffs from students, parents, teachers, schools, and the community. Our primary goal should be to maximize the number of days children are present. This can be accomplished many ways, but I think there are three buckets schools should really focus on. Back-to-school vaccination campaignWe need strong, universal vaccine campaigns at schools. Parents report that schools, pediatricians, and health departments are the most trusted sources of information about vaccines. Schools can also significantly improve access to vaccines, as 38% of parents say they do not have enough info on where their kid can get vaccinated. A fall back-to-school campaign could really help move the needle for vaccinations, and thus school absences. And not just for COVID, but other vaccine preventable diseases. [Other areas are masking and ventilation.]” Katelyn Jetelina, “A plan for the upcoming school year,” Your Local Epidemiologist.