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Schoolteachers may play ‘central role’ in COVID-19 spread in schools, small CDC study says

Centers for Disease of Control and Prevention said in a rural Georgia study that teachers may spread COVID-19 in schools

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks with kindergartners in Chelsea Singh’s class during a visit to Firgrove Elementary School in Puyallup, Wash., Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee speaks with kindergartners in Chelsea Singh’s class during a visit to Firgrove Elementary School in Puyallup, Wash., on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021.
Ellen M. Banner, The Seattle Times via Associated Press

The Centers for Disease of Control and Prevention said in a new study that teachers may play a “central role” in transmitting COVID-19 in schools, especially where social distancing isn’t followed and face masks aren’t worn.

  • Getting teachers vaccinated could help students return to school safely, the study said.

What happened

The CDC study looked at the novel coronavirus’ spread in eight Georgia public elementary schools from Dec. 1, 2020, to Jan. 22, 2021.

  • All the schools were in the same district.
  • The number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents jumped 300%, according to CNBC.

The CDC study reportedly found nine COVID-19 “clusters” that included 13 teachers and 32 students at six of the schools.

  • The clusters were made up of six people. In four of the nine clusters, the teacher was the “index patient,” or the first identified COVID-19 case, per CNBC.
  • One cluster had a student as the index patient.
  • All of the clusters — except for one — had “at least one educator and probable educator-to-student transmission,” the study found, according to CNBC.

Key quote

  • “Educators played an important role in the spread of COVID-19 in the schools. COVID-19 spread often occurred during in-person meetings or lunches and then subsequently spread in classrooms,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters Monday, according to CNBC. “The two main reasons for the spread of COVID-19 in these schools were inadequate physical distancing and mask adherence in the schools.”

COVID-19 spread in schools?

Back in January, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said schools that have all the proper COVID-19 precautions in place have found scant transmission of the virus, as I wrote for the Deseret News

  • However, indoor athletics did lead to infections. So the CDC recommended schools limit athletics so they can open safely.