The opening of schools that coincided with the beginning of fall 2020 and the arrival of the second wave of COVID-19 in continental Europe has fostered significant debate in several countries. Some contributions have suggested that youngsters play a minor role in the spread of the virus, given the specific characteristics of this infection; other scholars have raised concerns about the necessary movement that involves keeping schools open, and the consequent potential spread of the virus. In this study, we focus on the Italian case, an interesting setting in which to test the impact of opening schools on the spread of COVID-19, because of the different dates at which schools have opened in the various Italian provinces, and because of the different rates at which the virus has spread across Italy. Our results suggest that open schools have a positive impact on COVID-19 cases, whose spread occurs between 10 and 14 days after opening. While closing schools or using distance learning have other social and economic consequences, making it necessary for policymakers to adopt a holistic evaluation, it should be taken into account that open schools have an impact on the spread of the pandemic.
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