Schools reopening and the COVID-19 pandemic: a case study from Macaé, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

An Acad Bras Cienc. 2022 Nov 21;94(suppl 3):e20211361. doi: 10.1590/0001-3765202220211361. eCollection 2022.


Since the first reported case of COVID-19 in Brazil, the public and private educational system started to close. Up to November 2020, scientific discussions about the return of schooling activities have been rarely performed by the national scientific community and police-makers. The great delay of school returning in Brazil contrasts with successful international strategies of school reopening worldwide and seems counterintuitive with the reopening of non-essential activities. Here, important issues to be considered before and during school reopening are reviewed and discussed. COVID-19 testing is essential to avoid disease spreading, but high cost of individual RT-qPCRs impairs an extensive testing strategy for school returning. To reduce costs and increase the speed of diagnosis, we tested the efficiency of a pooled-sample PCR strategy in a cohort of the educational staff in the city of Macaé/RJ, finding five asymptomatic individuals (0,66%) among the 754 people tested. Thus, a polled-sample PCR testing strategy of the educational staff might prevent infection spreading in schools at a reasonable cost. We discuss how our test strategy could be coupled with internationally recognized safety rules to allow for a safe school return and how countries from different world regions are dealing with educational activities during COVID-19 pandemic.

MeSH terms

  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Schools