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Effect of Planned School Breaks on Student Absenteeism due to Influenza-like Illness in School Aged Children - Oregon School District, Wisconsin September 2014-June 2019
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  • Cecilia He,
  • Derek Norton,
  • Jonathan Temte,
  • Shari Barlow,
  • Maureen Goss,
  • Emily Temte,
  • Cristalyne Bell,
  • Guanhua Chen,
  • Amra Uzicanin
Cecilia He
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Derek Norton
University of Wisconsin-Madison
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Jonathan Temte
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
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Shari Barlow
University of Wisconsin
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Maureen Goss
University of Wisconsin Madison
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Emily Temte
University of Wisconsin Madison Department of Family Medicine
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Cristalyne Bell
University of Wisconsin-Madison
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Guanhua Chen
University of Wisconsin-Madison
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Amra Uzicanin
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Background School-aged children and school reopening dates have important roles in community influenza transmission. Although many studies evaluated the impact of reactive closures during seasonal and pandemic influenza outbreaks on medically attended influenza in surrounding communities, few assess the impact of planned breaks (i.e., school holidays) which coincide with influenza seasons, while accounting for differences in seasonal peak timing. Here, we analyze the effects of winter and spring breaks on influenza risk in school-aged children, measured by student absenteeism due to influenza-like illness (a-ILI). Methods We compared a-ILI counts in the two-week periods before and after each winter and spring break over five consecutive years in a single school district. We introduced a “pseudo-break” of 9 days’ duration between winter and spring break each year when school was still in session to serve as a control. The same analysis was applied to each pseudo-break to support any findings of true impact. Results We found strong associations between winter and spring breaks and a reduction in influenza risk, with a nearly 50% reduction in a-ILI counts post-break compared to the period before break, and the greatest impact when break coincided with increased local influenza activity. Conclusions These findings suggest that brief breaks of in-person schooling, such as planned breaks lasting 9-16 calendar days, can effectively reduce influenza in schools and community spread. Additional analyses investigating the impact of well-timed shorter breaks on a-ILI may determine an optimal duration for brief school closures to effectively suppress community transmission of influenza.
02 Feb 2023Submitted to Influenza and other respiratory viruses
03 Feb 2023Submission Checks Completed
03 Feb 2023Assigned to Editor
14 Feb 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
07 Jun 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
10 Jun 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Major
03 Aug 20231st Revision Received
09 Aug 2023Submission Checks Completed
09 Aug 2023Assigned to Editor
25 Aug 2023Reviewer(s) Assigned
14 Nov 2023Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
16 Nov 2023Editorial Decision: Revise Minor