CDC: Evidence Growing on Schools, COVID

Agency: In-person schooling seems to be safe if masks, social distancing are required
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 27, 2021 7:27 AM CST
CDC: Schools Safe, With the Right COVID Precautions
In this July 6, 2020, file photo, Israeli schoolchildren wear face masks to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus as they walk in Tel Aviv.   (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

Health officials say evidence continues to mount that it's generally safe to have in-person schooling, if US schools require mask wearing and other precautions. The latest study, published online Tuesday by a CDC journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, looked at schools in rural Wisconsin and found cases linked to in-school transmission were very low, even while infections were common in the same communities, per the AP. "Data has really accumulated over the last few months that with good prevention efforts ... we can keep transmission in schools quite low," says the CDC's Margaret Honein. The study focused on 17 schools in Wood County in central Wisconsin and found cases were diagnosed at a rate 37% lower than that reported in the county overall.

In the Journal of the American Medical Association, Honein and other CDC scientists say it's reassuring that the kind of spread seen in nursing homes and other places hasn't been noted in schools with prevention measures. However, they say some extracurricular school-related activities, such as sports, have triggered coronavirus spread in some places. "It's not going to be safe to have a pizza party with a group of students," Honein tells the New York Times. "But outdoor cross-country, where distance can be maintained, might be fine to continue." The CDC's findings align with the opinion of some educators and public health experts that schools "should be the last to close and the first to open when shutdowns are necessary," per the Times.

(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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