As families across the United States scramble to care for children sent home from schools closed due to the coronavirus, experts disagree on whether such closures protect kids — or even the community. The question of whether to close schools in not a no-brainer, said Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at Harvard’s public health school. On one hand, children clearly can be infected and can transmit the new virus, he said; schools are poorly ventilated and “not very sanitary.” But he said the case is much clearer for other social distancing measures like canceling large public events, and the downsides of school closures include the hypothetical risk of children infecting their grandparents or other older caretakers who step in when school is closed. “I don’t envy the public officials making these decisions,” Lipsitch said. In Scarsdale, an affluent New York City suburb, schools are closed until March 18 because a middle-school faculty member tested positive for the virus. While fixing a late-morning breakfast of pancakes for her two school-aged sons, Christine Weston said Wednesday she agreed with the decision, even if her kids had no known exposure. She lives 20 minutes from New Rochelle, hit by more than 100 cases and


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