If school were to start today on Oahu, at least one coronavirus-infected person would be expected to show up in a school of 500 students and staff in the first week of classes.

That’s according to estimates based on current infection rates around the country from researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, detailed and visualized here by The New York Times.

As for the rest of Hawaii, no virus-infected person would be expected to show up in a similar-size school within the first week in Maui County, Hawaii County or Kauai County, per the estimates.

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have produced estimates, visualized by The New York Times, of how school size may relate to infection rates. Screenshot

More than 80% of Americans, or most of those across 19 states, live in areas where at least one person infected with the virus would be expected to show up in a 500-person school, should school start today, according to the piece.

In the hardest-hit areas right now, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Nashville and Las Vegas, where more than 1 in 70 people are currently infected with the virus, at least 5 people would be expected to show up with the virus in a school of 500, the estimates show.

The projections also include scenarios of varying degrees: a school of 100 students and staff, 1,000 students and staff or a pod of 10, indicating just how much class size matters as students head back to school next month.

If limited to pods of 10, nearly the entire country, including all of Hawaii, would expect to see zero virus-infected people arrive to school in the first week.

But in a school of 1,000 students or staff, the picture changes: Honolulu County, which includes all of Oahu, would expect to see two virus-infected people arrive to school within the first week (but still zero for Hawaii’s other counties).

The guidelines are based on infection rates in the seven-day period ending July 28. They also assume kids “are as likely to carry and transmit the virus as adults,” the piece says.

Public school students in Hawaii will begin the school year on Aug. 17 after the state Board of Education voted Thursday to approve pushing back the school year. Whether students will return in-person or virtually depends on the school they attend.

Something to consider...

Civil Beat is a small, independent newsroom that provides free content with no paywall. That means readership growth alone can’t sustain our journalism.

The truth is that less than 2% of our monthly readers are financial supporters. To remain a viable business model for local news, we need a higher percentage of readers-turned-donors.

Will you consider making a tax-deductible gift today?

About the Author