Evaluating the Effects of School Reopening in the Pandemic: Evidence from São Paulo

Last registered on February 10, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Evaluating the Effects of School Reopening in the Pandemic: Evidence from São Paulo
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0006742
Initial registration date
November 13, 2020

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
November 16, 2020, 1:14 PM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
February 10, 2021, 7:49 AM EST

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.

Locations

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
University of Zurich

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Inter-American Development Bank
PI Affiliation
PUC-Rio
PI Affiliation
University of Zurich

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2020-11-16
End date
2021-03-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
In this study, we evaluate the effect of schools reopening in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic on students' educational and health outcomes, their families' health and economic outcomes, and school staff's health outcomes. A subset of schools in São Paulo, Brazil, reopened at the beginning of October. We will combine administrative and phone survey data as well as quasi-experimental and experimental methods to evaluate the effect of the reopening on the outcomes of interest. In the experiment, we randomly encourage students in some schools, but not others, to returns to in-person classes when they resume.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Lichand, Guilherme et al. 2021. "Evaluating the Effects of School Reopening in the Pandemic: Evidence from São Paulo." AEA RCT Registry. February 10. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.6742
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
To measure the impact of school reopening, we will take advantage of the fact that schools will reopen progressively. We combine administrative data for the universe of students and school staff and mobile survey data for a sample comprising both students and school staff enrolled and working in schools that have reopened and those enrolled and working in schools that are still closed.

Approximately 20% of the municipalities in São Paulo State authorized schools to reopen for optional sports and cultural activities on September 7, 2020 and for regular activities (only for high school students) on October 7, 2020. The return of school activities might depend on several characteristics, such as the state of the pandemic in the municipality, mayor's characteristics, etc.

In this project, we will combine quasi-experimental and experimental methods to evaluate the causal effect of school reopening on the outcomes of interest. The experiment will comprise an encouragement design, in which we send nudges to motivate students to return to
school -- randomly assigning within municipalities where schools are open. We will send motivation SMS to students themselves (grades 10 to 12) or a students' parent or legal guardian (grades 6 to 9, if those are allowed to resume regular
classes in the months that follow).

We can use this experiment to assess the reduced-form effects of school reopening on the outcomes of interest by simply comparing treated schools with non-treated schools within municipalities that chose to reopen schools. If we have access to attendance data for the schools that reopen, from administrative records, we can use the assignment to nudges as an instrumental variable to estimate the causal effect of school reopening on health and education outcomes.

In order for the simple comparison described above to generate causal effects, we need to assume that the messages do not have a direct effect on the outcomes of interest but affect them only through the attendance in reopened schools. We will verify if this is the case by sending placebo messages. Specifically, we will send the same messages to students enrolled in schools that did not reopen. Since we will have information on students in both types of schools, we can evaluate if messages have a direct effect on the outcomes of interest.
Intervention Start Date
2020-11-16
Intervention End Date
2021-01-29

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
We will assess the effects of schools reopening on the following variables - obtained both through administrative data and mobile based phone surveys:
 Quarterly grades, by school subject, based on these activities (admin
data);
 Student dropouts (admin data);
 Number of positive Covid-19 cases in the family of students, school staff and municipalities that reopen (admin and phone survey data);
 Number of Covid-19 related hospitalizations in the family of students, school staff and municipalities that reopen (admin and phone survey data);
 Number of Covid-19 deaths in the family of students, school staff and municipalities that reopen (admin and phone survey data).
 Labor supply of household members (phone survey only).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Besides, we also have information on various other baseline variables: the history of access to the distance learning platform since May; attendance and grades for the rst quarter of the year, provided by administrative records; predicted risk of dropouts at the student-level, on a 0-100 scale. We will use them for estimating heterogeneous treatment effects.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We plan on reaching at least 18.258 students equally divided between the treatment, placebo, and control groups (although the intervention might end up reaching as many as 400,000 students).

The content of the messages will be the same, but the students in the treatment group will be randomly assigned among those in municipalities that reopen schools. The placebo group, on the other hand, will be composed of a random set of students of the municipalities that did not reopen schools.

We will send two messages a month for each student during three months. To implement the intervention, we will partner with Brazilian EdTech Movva, specialized in nudges via text messages, withexpertise in implementing randomized trials and partnering with researchers to
conduct evaluations to assess the effectiveness of programs and policies. Movva is in charge of designing and sending text messages in the context of our experimental intervention.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer by Movva
Randomization Unit
Schools, stratified by municipality.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
At least 142 (up to 644) municipalities
Sample size: planned number of observations
At least 18,000 (up to 664,500) high-school students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1/3 in the treatment group (nudges in municipalities where schools reopen), 1/3 in the placebo group (nudges in municipalities where schools do not reopen), 1/3 in the control group (no nudges)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
This design allows us to detect an effect size of nudges on attendance of at least 0.039 s.d., about 2% of the mean attendance in schools that reopen.
Supporting Documents and Materials

Documents

Document Name
IRB approval letter
Document Type
irb_protocol
Document Description
IRB approval letter granted by the University of Zurich
File
IRB approval letter

MD5: 5acd30bee71c10948b36137066f0961a

SHA1: 1ebec88320be6c7db789bbe373944160bbb9eb09

Uploaded At: November 13, 2020

IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Zurich
IRB Approval Date
2020-10-27
IRB Approval Number
OEC IRB # 2020-079
Analysis Plan

Analysis Plan Documents

Updated pre-analysis plan (as of the week before the start of the intervention)

MD5: 75c28d3780382ae3f3197e8c7a1eedeb

SHA1: 063891dcdcd7100aee80a20989e82410d01f93e1

Uploaded At: February 10, 2021

Pre-Analysis Plan

MD5: 1b023391a4ca3b2b47cd3fe9a323bb3c

SHA1: 99a66863c4fe40fd25a491d4d7bf86b3e2a74292

Uploaded At: November 13, 2020

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials