Interactive model puts school reopening plans to the test

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Bay Area health company Color has created interactive models that show how different school reopening plans can impact the spread of COVID-19.

The models, one for primary schools and one for secondary schools, take into consideration the type of plan, such as hybrid or cohort. Users can toggle other stats as well, including the vaccination of teachers, preemptive testing, global transmission and R-naught.

Alicia Zhou, chief science officer of Color, was a guest on KCBS Radio’s “Ask An Expert.”

“The model is actually being worked on constantly, to add in new things that we now are learning about,” she said.

Zhou said the model shows that the student cohort approach to reopening can significantly reduce the likelihood of an outbreak in elementary school classrooms.

Student cohorts, or the idea of dividing a classroom into two groups and having students come in on alternating days or weeks, are a realistic approach for primary schools, she said.

“The goal here is to try to keep your students and teachers in a stable cohort,” Zhou told KCBS Radio. “You want to minimize the amount of intermingling between one classroom and another classroom.”

Secondary school models showed that student cohorts are effective, but not as effective because students are likely to move around more in middle and high school, she said.

The models can be found on Color’s website.