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3 Studies: Low Risk of COVID-19 Transmission in Schools

school girls adjust each other's masks in front of a traditional yellow school bus
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By    |   Tuesday, 19 January 2021 04:57 PM

A trio of separate studies found in-person schooling for children does not carry a high risk of contracting COVID-19.

One of the studies conducted in Sweden further found there were only a few cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children or MIS-C in schools and no deaths associated with this potentially serious COVID-19 related illness. All 3 studies concluded schools should remain open, as there is little established risk of COVID-19 transmission if safety protocols are in place.

According to a paper published by the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), the first study was conducted in North Carolina where researchers from Duke University tracked students in 11 school districts that were open for in-person learning last fall.

Of the more than 90,000 students that were traced, 773 developed COVID-19 and minimal secondary transmissions and infections were reported. Notably, there was no in-school child-to-adult spread, according to the authors, who said the school districts successfully mitigate the spread by using strict public health measures. These measures included steps such as daily screening of staff and students, consistent mask wearing, contact tracing, and collaboration with public health officials.

The authors of the study said public schools are important for children not only to provide an education but to boost public health and the economy. They concluded "schools can reopen safely if they develop and adhere to specific SARS-CoV-2 prevention policies."

According to CIDRAP, the second study conducted by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, involved kids in preschools, primary, and lower-secondary schools that were kept open during the spring of 2020.

The researchers wanted to find out how many children became seriously ill with COVID-19 and developed MIS-C. The results showed only 15 children with COVID-19 or MIS-C were treated in Swedish intensive care units — a ratio 1 in 130,000 students who became severely ill.

The study authors also noted 4 of the hospitalized children had underlying health issues and none died. One of the researchers, Dr. Jonas F. Ludvigsson, a pediatrician at Orebro University Hospital, and a professor at the Karolinska Institute, said "it is very gratifying that serious COVID-19, defined here as needing treatment in an intensive care unit, is so rare among children despite schools being open during the pandemic," according to CIDRAP.

The third study, published in Eurosurveillance, found minimal transmission of COVID-19 in children attending primary schools. That study, conducted by researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo, found no secondary cases arose from in-school transmission when they diligently traced and tested students twice.

Only 13 COVID-19 patients aged 5-13 were identified in primary schools in Oslo and Viken, cities with a high number of COVID-19 cases, from August to November 2020. And, of these, 4 went to school with mild symptoms and the others were asymptomatic.

"The results obtained during low to medium community transmission demonstrate the limited role of children in transmission of SARs-CoV-2 in school settings," the authors wrote.

They added it is preferable to practice infection protection and control protocols to contain community transmission than to close schools, according to CIDRAP.

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Headline
A trio of separate studies found in-person schooling for children does not carry a high risk of contracting COVID-19.
schools, children, transmission, covid-19, pandemic, open schools, health experts, studies
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2021-57-19
Tuesday, 19 January 2021 04:57 PM
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