NYUAD study uses mathematical modeling to identify an optimal school return approach

October 07, 2020

Fast facts:Abu Dhabi, UAE - October 7, 2020: In a recent study, NYU Abu Dhabi Professor of Practice in Mathematics Alberto Gandolfi has developed a mathematical model to identify the number of days students could attend school to allow them a better learning experience while mitigating infections of COVID-19.

Published in Physicsa D journal, the study shows that blended models, with almost periodic alternations of in-class and remote teaching days or weeks, would be ideal. In a prototypical example, the optimal strategy results in the school opening 90 days out of 200, with the number of COVID-19 cases among the individuals related to the school increasing by about 66 percent, instead of the almost 250 percent increase, which is predicted should schools fully reopen.

The study features five different groups; these include students susceptible to infection, students exposed to infection, students displaying symptoms, asymptomatic students, and recovered students. In addition, Gandolfi's study models other factors, including a seven hour school day as the window for transmission, and the risk of students getting infected outside of school.

Speaking on the development of this model, Gandolfi commented: "The research comes as over one billion students around the world are using remote learning models in the face of the global pandemic, and educators are in need of plans for the upcoming 2020 - 2021 academic year. Given that children come in very close contact within the classrooms, and that the incubation period lasts several days, the study shows that full re-opening of the classrooms is not a viable possibility in most areas. On the other hand, with the development of a vaccine still in its formative stages, studies have placed the potential impact of COVID-19 on children as losing 30 percent of usual progress in reading and 50 percent or more in math."

He added: "The approach aims to provide a viable solution for schools that are planning activities ahead of the 2020 - 2021 academic year. Each school, or group thereof, can adapt the study to its current situation in terms of local COVID-19 diffusion and relative importance assigned to COVID-19 containment versus in-class teaching; it can then compute an optimal opening strategy. As these are mixed solutions in most cases, other aspects of socio-economic life in the area could then be built around the schools' calendar. This way, children can benefit as much as possible from a direct, in class experience, while ensuring that the spread of infection is kept under control."

Using the prevalence of active COVID-19 cases in a region as a proxy for the chance of getting infected, the study gives a first indication, for each country, of the possibilities for school reopening: schools can fully reopen in a few countries, while in most others blended solutions can be attempted, with strict physical distancing, and frequent, generalized, even if not necessarily extremely reliable, testing.
For more information about NYUAD's efforts in combating COVID-19, please visit the University's COVID-19: A Call to Action page.

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and science campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly-selective liberal arts, engineering and science curriculum with a world center for advanced research and scholarship enabling its students to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity's shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi's high-achieving students have come from more than 115 nations and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.

New York University

Related Learning Articles from Brightsurf:

Learning the language of sugars
We're told not to eat too much sugar, but in reality, all of our cells are covered in sugar molecules called glycans.

When learning on your own is not enough
We make decisions based on not only our own learning experience, but also learning from others.

Learning more about particle collisions with machine learning
A team of Argonne scientists has devised a machine learning algorithm that calculates, with low computational time, how the ATLAS detector in the Large Hadron Collider would respond to the ten times more data expected with a planned upgrade in 2027.

Getting kids moving, and learning
Children are set to move more, improve their skills, and come up with their own creative tennis games with the launch of HomeCourtTennis, a new initiative to assist teachers and coaches with keeping kids active while at home.

How expectations influence learning
During learning, the brain is a prediction engine that continually makes theories about our environment and accurately registers whether an assumption is true or not.

Technology in higher education: learning with it instead of from it
Technology has shifted the way that professors teach students in higher education.

Learning is optimized when we fail 15% of the time
If you're always scoring 100%, you're probably not learning anything new.

School spending cuts triggered by great recession linked to sizable learning losses for learning losses for students in hardest hit areas
Substantial school spending cuts triggered by the Great Recession were associated with sizable losses in academic achievement for students living in counties most affected by the economic downturn, according to a new study published today in AERA Open, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.

Lessons in learning
A new Harvard study shows that, though students felt like they learned more from traditional lectures, they actually learned more when taking part in active learning classrooms.

Learning to look
A team led by JGI scientists has overhauled the perception of inovirus diversity.

Read More: Learning News and Learning Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.