Does re-opening schools contribute to the spread of SARS-CoV-2? Evidence from staggered summer breaks in Germany

Ingo E. Isphording*, Marc Lipfert, Nico Pestel

*Corresponding author for this work

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This paper studies the effect of the end of school summer breaks on SARS-CoV-2 cases in Germany. The staggered timing of summer breaks across federal states allows us to implement an event study design. We base our analysis on official daily counts of confirmed coronavirus infections by age groups across all 401 German counties. We consider an event window of two weeks before and four weeks after the end of summer breaks. We do not find evidence of a positive effect of school re-openings on case numbers. For individuals aged between 5 and 59 years, comprising school-aged children and their parents, our pre-
ferred specification indicates that the end of summer breaks had a negative but insignificant effect on the number of new confirmed cases. Our results are not explained by changes in mobility patterns around school re-openings arising from travel returnees. Analyses of Google Trends data suggest that behavioral
changes of parents may have contributed to contain larger outbreaks after school re-openings. We conclude that school re-openings in Germany under strict hygiene measures combined with quarantine and containment measures have not increased the number of newly confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104426
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Public Economics
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Schooling
  • Education
  • Germany

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