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Alicia Zhou was worried about sending her son, Davi, to in-person first grade this year, especially as the Delta variant of Covid-19 spreads and children under age 12 are still ineligible to get vaccinated against Covid-19. But instead of just being concerned, she tried to answer the question, “How do we ensure that kids are safe at school while still reaping the benefits of in-person learning?”

As the chief science officer at a health technology company, Zhou worked with colleagues to make a model that simulates the course of an outbreak after an infected person enters a congregate setting such as a school. Based on the model, they also created a simulation that lets users vary different mitigation strategies, like better ventilation and wearing masks, to see their effects on the the spread of the disease.

Zhou breaks down the anxieties and how to approach them on this week’s episode of the “First Opinion Podcast.”

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“Kids are constantly being given what they believe to be very arbitrary rules about how they live their life, and so the idea that they have to now wear a mask and be distant from other people, actually wasn’t that confusing,” Zhou said.

The conversation stems from Zhou’s First Opinion essay, “We know how to keep kids safe from Covid-19 in school. Now we need to do it.”

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And if you have any feedback for us — First Opinion authors to feature on the podcast, vocal mannerisms the host needs to jettison, kudos or darts — email us at [email protected] and please put “podcast” in the subject line.

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