An interesting article published in Paediatrics 2021 April by Zimmerman and others investigated this issue.
In an effort to mitigate the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection, North Carolina closed the Kindergarten schools through grade 12 to in person instruction on March 14th.
On July 15th 2020, North Carolina’s Governor announced schools could open via remote learning, or a hybrid model that combined in person and remote instruction.
In August 2020, 56 of the 150 North Carolina School Districts joined the ABC science collaborative to implement public health measures to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission and share lessons learned. Here, the authors described secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2 within participating districts during the first nine weeks of in person instruction in the 2021 academic year.
From August 15th 2020 to October 23rd 2020, 11 of 56 school districts participating in this were open for in person instruction for all nine weeks of the first quarter and agreed to track incidence and secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
Local health department staff adjudicated secondary transmission.
Superintendents met weekly with ABC faculty to share lessons learnt and develop prevention methods.
Over nine weeks, 11 participating school districts had greater than 90,000 students and staff attend school in person.
Amongst these students and staff 773 community acquired SARS-CoV-2 infections were documented by molecular testing.
Through contract tracing, health department staff confirmed an additional 32 protections were acquired within schools. No instances of child or adult transmission of SARS-CoV-2 were reported with the schools.
The authors concluded that in the first nine weeks of in person instruction in North Caroline Schools, they found an extremely limited within school secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2 as determined by contact tracing.
This paper serves to highlight the need for a sensible approach to test and trace in the school community.
Children and Transmission of SARS CoV-2
The bulk of the literature on transmission in schools, however, suggests that children do not drive viral spread.
Investigations in Germany, France, Ireland, Australia, Singapore and the United States show no, or very low, secondary attack rates within school settings.
It has been perpetuated in the American media that COVID is dangerous and kids are super spreaders and schools are super spread places: none of this has been validated in the scientific literature.
That is not to say there are no risks.
Some children have died of the disease and the study looking at COVID-19 related deaths in children in seven countries found that 231 children had died of the disease between March 2020 and February 2021.
The London General Practice, the leading London doctors’ clinic performs all forms of COVID testing including PCR, rapid antigen, antibody and the new T-cell immunity test.
Dr Paul Ettlinger
BM, DRCOG, FRCGP, FRIPH, DOccMed