Rotation‑based schedules in elementary schools to prevent COVID‑19 spread: a simulation study

Cyril Brom, Tomas Diviak, Jakub Drbohlav, Vaclav Korbel, Rene Levinsky, Roman Neruda, Gabriela Kadlecova, Josef Slerka, Martin Smid, Jan Trnka, Petra Vidnerova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rotations of schoolchildren were considered as a non-pharmacological intervention in the COVID-19 pandemic. This study investigates the impact of different rotation and testing schedules.We built an agent-based model of interactions among pupils and teachers based on a survey in an elementary school in Prague, Czechia. This model contains 624 schoolchildren and 55 teachers and about 27 thousands social contacts in 10 layers. The layers reflect different types of contacts (classroom, cafeteria, etc.) in the survey. On this multi-graph structure we run a modified SEIR model of covid-19 infection. The parameters of the model are calibrated on data from the outbreak in the Czech Republic in spring 2020. Weekly rotations of in-class and distance learning are an effective preventative measure in schools reducing the spread of covid-19 by 75–81%. Antigen testing twice a week or PCR once a week significantly reduces infections even when using tests with a lower sensitivity. The structure of social contacts between pupils and teachers strongly influences the transmission. While the density of contact graphs for older pupils is 1.5 times higher than for younger pupils, the teachers’ network is an order of magnitude denser. Teachers moreover act as bridges between groups of children, responsible for 14–18% of infections in the secondary school compared to 8–11% in the primary school. Weekly rotations with regular testing are a highly effective non-pharmacological intervention for the prevention of covid-19 spread in schools and a way to keep schools open during an epidemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19156
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Early online date6 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Nov 2023


  • COVID-19
  • Child
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Humans
  • Pandemics/prevention & control
  • Schools
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


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