Park J, Joo H, Maskery BA, Zviedrite N, Uzicanin A. Productivity costs associated with reactive school closures related to influenza or influenza-like illness in the United States from 2011 to 2019. PLoS One. 2023 Jun 6;18(6):e0286734
Methods: We used prospectively collected data on ILI-related reactive school closures from August 1, 2011 to June 30, 2019 to estimate the costs of the closures, which included productivity costs for parents, teachers, and non-teaching school staff. Productivity cost estimates were evaluated by multiplying the number of days for each closure by the state- and year-specific average hourly or daily wage rates for parents, teachers, and school staff. We subdivided total cost and cost per student estimates by school year, state, and urbanicity of school location.
Results: The estimated productivity cost of the closures was $476 million in total during the eight years, with most (90%) of the costs occurring between 2016-2017 and 2018-2019, and in Tennessee (55%) and Kentucky (21%). Among all U.S. public schools, the annual cost per student was much higher in Tennessee ($33) and Kentucky ($19) than any other state ($2.4 in the third highest state) or the national average ($1.2). The cost per student was higher in rural areas ($2.9) or towns ($2.5) than cities ($0.6) or suburbs ($0.5). Locations with higher costs tended to have both more closures and closures with longer durations.
Conclusions: In recent years, we found significant heterogeneity in year-to-year costs of ILI-associated reactive school closures. These costs have been greatest in Tennessee and Kentucky and been elevated in rural or town areas relative to cities or suburbs. Our findings might provide evidence to support efforts to reduce the burden of seasonal influenza in these disproportionately impacted states or communities.
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