New research finds that when schools practice compulsory masking, social distancing, and frequent hand washing, transmission of COVID-19 is rare.
The pilot study in Missouri shows that this is the case even in close contact with those who test positive for the virus.
Close contact refers to anyone who has been within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes in a 24-hour period with someone infected with COVID-19.
The findings, published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report, mirror those of schools in other states and show that COVID-19 prevention efforts can significantly slow the spread of the disease. SARS-CoV-2 among students, teachers and staff. .
“This work is imperative because keeping children away from school provides not only educational enrichment but also social, psychological and emotional health benefits, particularly for students who depend on school services for nutritional, physical and mental support.” , he claims. lead author Johanna S. Salzer, a veterinary medical officer at the CDC’s National Center for Infectious and Emerging Zoonotic Diseases.
Other safety measures included a focus on hand hygiene, deep cleaning of facilities, physical spacing in classrooms, daily detection of COVID-19 symptoms, installing physical barriers between teachers and students, offering virtual learning options, and increasing ventilation. .
For two weeks in December, the schools involved informed researchers of students, teachers, and staff who had been infected with COVID-19 or quarantined because they were considered close contact with someone who tested positive.
In St. Louis, close contacts of students or teachers who tested positive were quarantined, meaning they haven’t had to leave their homes for 14 days since they were last exposed to a positive case.
Participants included 193 people in 22 of the 57 schools, 37 tested positive for COVID-19 and 156 from their close contacts. Among the participants who tested positive for COVID-19, 24 (65%) were students and 13 (35%) were teachers or staff members. Of the close contacts, 137 (88%) were students and 19 (12%) were teachers or staff members.
Of the 102 close contacts who agreed to get tested for COVID-19 using saliva tests, only two people received positive results indicating probable secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2 at school.
Additionally, the researchers did not identify outbreaks in participating schools despite high rates of community spread in December, even among Springfield schools that followed modified quarantine protocols that allow some close contacts of positive people to remain in the school.
“Schools can operate safely during a pandemic when prevention strategies are followed,” says Jason Newland, a professor of pediatrics at Washington University in St. Louis, who treats patients at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Newland led the pilot program with the CDC and advised several school districts in Missouri about plans to reopen schools.
“The pilot study shows low transmission in schools and no student-to-teacher transmission, and this was during the peak of the pandemic in December, with high rates of spread in the community,” he says.
“Schools with adequate prevention strategies remain a safe environment for students and teachers during the pandemic,” says Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
Since mid-January, researchers from the CDC, the University of Washington and Saint Louis University, Missouri County Health Departments and School Districts have participated in a larger study to further examine prevention strategies for COVID-19 and quarantine policies. .
Additionally, researchers go to classrooms to measure the distances between desks to assess the safety of loosening the 6-foot social distance rule in school settings.
They are also sending out surveys to parents, teachers and staff to assess the stress and mental health challenges surrounding the quarantine. In Springfield, researchers continue to study modified quarantine policies.