Collecting School-level COVID-19 Case Data Through a National Survey


Yun Kim, MPH, Statistician, ICF

Ronaldo Iachan, PhD, Senior Fellow, ICF

The National School COVID-19 Prevention Study (NSCPS) invited a nationally representative and longitudinal sample of public schools to assess the mitigation actions taken in the schools and the COVID-19 infection among students.  A stratified random sample of 1,600 schools was selected and invited to participate in four survey waves from October 2021–May 2022. The survey data were weighted through non-response analysis and post-stratification. The surveys, given to school administrators, assessed COVID-19 prevention strategies (e.g., ventilation, distancing) and school-level COVID-19 cases. To identify the school-level mitigation strategies that have the most impact on COVID-19 rates, we developed a multilevel model that evaluates the association between each prevention strategy and school-level incidence, controlling for relevant covariates including community-level incidence and vaccination rates.  As the multivariate multilevel models did not find significant associations, we also investigated potential selection biases. Specifically, we examined associations between providing data on COVID-19 cases (i.e., case counts) and implementation of 12 prevention strategies. This analysis examined the potential for selection bias, as only a subset of schools tested their students to obtain case data and allowed for bias adjustments.  The percentage of schools reporting school-level COVID-19 cases in the survey ranged from 39% (April-May 2022) to 68% (October-November 2021).  Schools that reported opening doors and windows (74% vs. 63%, p=.044, October-November 2021), contact tracing (53% vs. 38%, p=.002, February-March 2022), and offering diagnostic testing (44% vs. 34%, p=.048, April-May 2022) were more likely to self-report school-level cases in the survey than schools that did not report each respective strategy.  For more information on the National School COVID-19 Prevention Study see Pampati et al. (2022) and  Spencer et al. (2022).

Spencer, P., Timpe, Z., Verlenden, J., Rasberry, C. N., Moore, S., Yeargin-Allsopp, M., Claussen, A. H., Lee, S., Murray, C., Tripathi, T., Conklin, S., Iachan, R., McConnell, L., Deng, X., & Pampati, S. (2023). Challenges experienced by U.S. K-12 public schools in serving students with special education needs or underlying health conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic and strategies for improved accessibility. Disability and health journal16(2), 101428.

Pampati, S., Rasberry, C. N., Timpe, Z., McConnell, L., Moore, S., Spencer, P., Lee, S., Murray, C. C., Adkins, S. H., Conklin, S., Deng, X., Iachan, R., Tripathi, T., & Barrios, L. C. (2023). Disparities in Implementing COVID-19 Prevention Strategies in Public Schools, United States, 2021-22 School Year. Emerging infectious diseases29(5), 937–944.