Natalie E. Dean, PhD+ Your Authors @nataliexdean Assistant Professor of Biostatistics at @UF specializing in emerging infectious diseases and vaccine study design. @HarvardBiostats PhD. Tweets my own. May. 29, 2020 1 min read + Your Authors

Two interesting examples of how randomized controlled trials could build evidence for policy decisions - whether to offer alternative housing for isolation, and re-opening schools. Useful to start thinking now about the potential role of RCTs. 

Interestingly, researchers in Norway proposed using randomization to study a gradual re-opening of schools. Ultimately it didn’t move forward. But I agree with @jzelner quote that “just the contribution of the idea to the discussion is valuable.” 

The proposed trial progressed in cycles. “In the first cycle, schools in one district would remain closed while those in another would reopen carefully with, for example, half the usual number of students and with six-foot social distancing in place.”

“If the careful reopening did not result in increased transmission, then in the second stage: Schools in one district would open with 1/2 the normal number of students and 6ft distancing while those in the other would have 3/4 of the normal number of students and 3ft distancing.”

“If there were no increased transmission, the third phase would compare that less restrictive setting with a full, unrestricted reopening.”

This process of laying out alternatives and describing how we decide between them is exactly what we need to move the conversation forward.

The fact that the replies to this range from “why would anyone send their kid back?” to “we already have the evidence we need to restart schools” suggests we can have a real conversation about equipoise.

You can follow @nataliexdean.


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