In one of the most rigorous studies, a group at Tulane University looked at hospitalizations (a more reliable measure than positive tests) before and after school reopenings. The results suggest that at least 75 percent of U.S. communities now have Covid well enough under control to reopen schools without sparking new outbreaks, including many places where schools remain closed.
The evidence is murkier for places with the worst current outbreaks, like much of the Carolinas. And some schools do seem to have reopened unsafely, including a Georgia district that is the subject of a new C.D.C. case study.
Still, Douglas Harris, the Tulane economist who runs the research group, told me, “All the studies are suggesting we can do this, if we put our minds to it.” He added: “We can’t do school the old way, but we can do better than this.”
A final note: I have been writing lately about the costs of the overly negative message that many people are spreading about the vaccines, even though the vaccines virtually eliminate severe forms of Covid. Schools are another place where you can see those costs — in Oregon.
Like Kentucky, Oregon has made it a priority to vaccinate teachers. But some teachers unions there have expressed skepticism about reopening even after teachers are vaccinated, as my colleague Shawn Hubler has written.