Researchers also found that, if transmission does not slow, a school with 100 in-person students would have a 94% chance that at least one student would arrive infected on the first day of school.
Moderate compliance with masking and social distancing would reduce the risk of an infected student arriving on the first day 37%, while high compliance would reduce that risk by 55%, the report said.
“The projections demonstrate the immediate need for heightened social distancing and transmission reducing-precautions within schools and throughout Austin,” the report says.
The researchers from the university’s COVID-19 Modeling Consortium used COVID-19 hospitalization data from March 13, 2020 to July 28, 2021 in the Austin metro—including Travis, Hays, Williamson, Bastrop and Caldwell counties—to project hospitalizations through November 2021.
The model factored in the Delta variant, the ongoing rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, the start of the 2021-22 school year and different possible levels of social distancing and mask usage across Austin and in schools.
Nine researchers collaborated on the report, led by Spencer J. Fox, Associate Director of the university’s COVID-19 Modeling Consortium and Michael Lachmann, a professor of biology at Santa Fe Institute.