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New study claims schools are a major spread of COVID-19 in Montreal

New study claims schools are a major spread of COVID-19 in MontrealFamVeld / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

A new study by a team of researchers is arguing that schools should be closed to slow down the spread of COVID-19.

While Quebec Premier François Legault described reopening schools Monday as a calculated risk, the study suggests schools are indeed a driving factor behind the spread of the virus in Quebec.

The study was conducted by two scholars at the Université de Montréal along with a researcher at Covid Écoles Quebec and one person from George Washington University.

According to their results, cases among children weren’t the result of community transmission, as government officials have suggested, but it was rather the other way around.

“The fastest increase in the cases in the adults following a large increase in the kids,” explained Simona Bignami, a demographer and professor at the Université de Montréal. “These are the neighbourhoods where have been more schools reporting cases and more cases in the schools.”

In other words, the study argues it is children who passed the virus onto adults when schools reopened in the fall, which explains why we’ve seen a huge spike in numbers in Montreal during the pandemic’s second wave.

“The objective right now should be to flatten the curve,” Bignami said. “Yet opening schools will strongly limit, if not outright cancel, the benefits the other measures in effect could have.”

During a news conference Monday, Legault said that while he’s heard some experts questioning the province’s decision to reopen schools, he stands by his decision to ignore their advice.

“I understand very well that there’s a risk with bringing children back into schools, but there are other disadvantages to keeping them at home. Social disadvantages, learning disadvantages,” Legault said.

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