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Is School Closure and Effective Way to Control Influenza?

Closing schools seems like a logical approach to managing community outbreaks of influenza. First, school-aged children are among the age groups more susceptible to influenza infection. Second, they tend to shed more of the virus into their environments, increasing the risk of exposure for those around them. Third, they live, learn, and play in close contact with many others – classmates, friends, teachers, family members, and caregivers. As a result, limiting contact among school-aged children should, in theory, reduce the spread and lessen the impact of pandemic or seasonal influenza, both among children and in the broader community. In practice, however, the effectiveness of school closures for managing outbreaks or severe outcomes related to influenza is unclear. Research on school closures has sometimes lacked rigour, often led to contradictory findings, or been insufficient to answer some of the more important questions.

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