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UAMS projects new COVID-19 cases would decrease if schools open with online classes

The simulations show different outcomes based on differing mask wearing and school opening scenarios.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — According to a forecasting model published by UAMS, if schools open with online classes only, the number of new cases could be decreased even further.

Figure 9 in the report shows three scenarios for school openings. The simulations show different outcomes based on differing mask wearing and school opening scenarios.

The simulations estimate daily new infections for in-person classes, shown in red, a combination of on-line and in-person classes, shown in blue, and only online classes, shown in green.

Credit: Data Source: eSIR Modeling and Hospitalization Impact for Arkansas

In the first two scenarios, the simulation assumes all students are screened for COVID-19 related symptoms before entering school and all students, teachers, and staff are required to wear masks and to properly socially distance. 

The simulation assumes that face masks are not always properly worn. These scenarios also assume increasing social interactions over holiday weekends during the summer before school starts, and other mitigation and travel assumptions. 

RELATED: Coronavirus updates: 410 new cases in Arkansas, 16 new deaths

In the exclusively online instruction scenario, shown in green on Figure 9, the simulation estimates 3,000 new daily infections on Oct. 6. If all classes are in-person, in red, the simulation estimates 8,000 new daily infections. 

For the scenario of mixed online and in-person classes, shown in blue, the simulation estimates 5,500 new daily infections on Oct. 6. 

Conclusions made from the scenarios show that the mid-term simulations suggest COVID-19 cases will continue to rapidly increase through the end of September to early October. The report shows that this will be accompanied by increasing deaths, at approximately one percent of those testing positive. 

The simulations show different outcomes based on differing mask wearing and school opening scenarios. These indicate ways the high number of projected cases might be decreased. 

"If the public adheres to the face mask order, the number of new infections could essentially be cut in half. In turn, the number of new hospitalizations would also be reduced," the report summarized.

To view the full report, click here.