Lasser, Jana; Johannes Sorget; Lukas Richter; Stefan Thurner; Daniela Schmid; and Peter Klimekl
We aim to identify those measures that effectively control the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in Austrian schools. Using cluster tracing data we calibrate an agent-based epidemiological model and consider situations where the B1.617.2 (delta) virus strain is dominant and parts of the population are vaccinated to quantify the impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) such as room ventilation, reduction of class size, wearing of masks during lessons, vaccinations, and school entry testing by SARS-CoV2-antigen tests. In the data we find that 40% of all clusters involved no more than two cases, and 3% of the clusters only had more than 20 cases. The model shows that combinations of NPIs together with vaccinations are necessary to allow for a controlled opening of schools under sustained community transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 delta variant. For plausible vaccination rates, primary (secondary) schools require a combination of at least two (three) of the above NPIs. How to safely maintain open schools during a pandemic is still controversial. Here, the authors aim to identify those measures that effectively control the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in Austrian schools, with an agent-based mathematical model.