The Washington Post reports that schools have reopened safely in Germany, with no major outbreaks of coronavirus—yet. The key to success is the rate of transmission in the community. Or so it seems. With this virus, you can never be certain of future behavior. The difference in the U.S. is that some states are making no effort to control the virus, not even mandating mask-wearing. Trump has unfortunately encouraged and modeled anti-social behavior.

When the community is safe, the schools are likely to be safe.

It’s been a month since German children began to lead Europe in the post-summer ­return to school, streaming back into classrooms and onto playgrounds, with little aside from masks to differentiate the scene from pre-coronavirus times.

So far, epidemiologists are cautiously optimistic.
The school openings have been accompanied by some panicked closures and quarantines.

In the first week, there were 31 clusters — amounting to 150 cases — of the novel coronavirus in schools, ­according to Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI). At least 41 schools in Berlin were reported to have been affected in the first two weeks.

But there have been few transmissions within schools themselves, health experts say, and although the number of new daily cases in Germany has been rising, schools haven’t been identified as a driver of infections.

“It’s looking promising,” said Johannes Huebner, president of the German Society for Pediatric Infectious Diseases. “There have not been any major outbreaks yet. Single cases, but they seem to be manageable.”

While Germany’s full-throttle return to class may provide some assurance for those fretting about school returns in the United States and elsewhere, health experts note that it’s still just the early days — and they warn about extrapolating too much. They say the risk associated with reopenings has a lot to do with the levels of the virus circulating in a community.

“The important thing is you have to keep the number in the community low,” said Huebner, who is also head of the infectious-disease department at Munich’s Dr. von Hauner Children’s Hospital. “This is where the United States will have problems.”

Despite a rise in infections that Germany’s RKI said “must be taken seriously,” the 1,484 new cases reported Friday among the country’s population of 83 million compare with at least 37,876 new cases in the latest U.S. report — more than 25 times as many infections in a population just four times as large.