Why Is School Closed Today? Unplanned K-12 School Closures in the United States, 2011–2013
Published Date:Dec 02 2014
Source:PLoS One. 2014; 9(12).
We describe characteristics of unplanned school closures (USCs) in the United States over two consecutive academic years during a non-pandemic period to provide context for implementation of school closures during a pandemic.
From August 1, 2011 through June 30, 2013, daily systematic internet searches were conducted for publicly announced USCs lasting ≥1 day. The reason for closure and the closure dates were recorded. Information on school characteristics was obtained from the National Center for Education Statistics.
During the two-year study period, 20,723 USCs were identified affecting 27,066,426 students. Common causes of closure included weather (79%), natural disasters (14%), and problems with school buildings or utilities (4%). Only 771 (4%) USCs lasted ≥4 school days. Illness was the cause of 212 (1%) USCs; of these, 126 (59%) were related to respiratory illnesses and showed seasonal variation with peaks in February 2012 and January 2013.
USCs are common events resulting in missed school days for millions of students. Illness causes few USCs compared with weather and natural disasters. Few communities have experience with prolonged closures for illness.
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