School closure response to an influenza epidemic in AISD
Influenza epidemics cause costs to society in a number of ways. Work hours are lost directly when infected adults stay home from work and indirectly when infected kids miss school, forcing their parents to miss work. Infections also lead to a number of medical costs as well as costs in the form of deaths. The closing of schools is often used as a method to reduce the spread of epidemics. Closing schools reduces the contacts between kids and therefore reduces the number of infections. In this way the cost of the epidemic can be greatly reduced. However, closing schools is also very costly. When schools are closed, many adults are forced to miss work for child care. An optimal response to an outbreak of influenza minimizes the cost of influenza plus the cost of school closure. Araz et al develops a method of determining optimal school closure based on data for the entire state of Texas. However, the model they use divides the population into just two classes, adults and kids. Transmission is based on one giant pool for the whole state and closing schools means closing every school in the state. However, in practice there may be a spatial element to the epidemic, with certain areas having higher proportions infected. By associating the population with schools, this I allow the closing decision to be made on a school by school basis. This will allow for a more efficient selection of school closure policy.