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With precautions in place, there’s little evidence of COVID-19 spread in schools

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released findings of a new study that show scant spread in schools

In this Friday, March 13, 2020 file photo the slogan ‘It’s Corona Time’ is written on the chalkboard of an empty classroom of a high school in Frankfurt, Germany.
In this Friday, March 13, 2020, file photo, the slogan ‘It’s Corona Time’ is written on the chalkboard of an empty classroom of a high school in Frankfurt, Germany. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released findings of a new study that show scant spread in schools.
Michael Probst, Associated Press

Schools that operate with all proper COVID-19 precautions in place have found scant transmission of the virus, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • However, some indoor athletics have led to infections, the study said. So schools should limit athletics if they want to open safely, the study said.

What happened?

The CDC recently reviewed data from studies in the United States and across the world to find that schools had a different experience with COVID-19 compared to businesses and nursing homes.

Three CDC researchers wrote about the findings in a piece in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

  • “The preponderance of available evidence from the fall school semester has been reassuring,” the researchers wrote. “There has been little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission.”

More evidence

The findings come as a separate study from the CDC found that seven out of 191 coronavirus cases in the study were linked to school spread. The researchers in that study made it clear that teachers, students and staff always wore masks, according to The Washington Post.

  • “The conclusion here is with proper prevention efforts ... we can keep transmission in schools and educational settings quite low,” said Margaret A. Honein, the lead author of the JAMA report on that second study. “We didn’t know that at the beginning of the year but the data has really accumulated.”

Key quote

“Back in August and September, we did not have a lot of data on whether or not we would see the same sort of rapid spread in schools that we had seen in other high-density work sites or residential sites,” said Margaret Honein, a member of the CDC’s COVID-19 emergency response team, according to The New York Times. “But there is accumulating data now that with high face mask compliance, and distancing and cohorting of students to minimize the total number of contacts, we can minimize the amount of transmission in schools.”

However

As The New York Times reports, local officials should be keeping infection rates low in their community, too. Smaller spread among the community will lead to less spread in the schools, they argue.

  • Officials should consider adding limits to indoor dining, bars and gyms with poor ventilation if they want to keep the spread low in their communities, according to The New York Times.