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SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Transmission in Educational Settings: Cross-Sectional Analysis of Clusters and Outbreaks in England
28 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2020More...
Background: There are limited data on SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission in educational settings. This information is critical for policy makers and practitioners to ensure the safety of staff, students and the wider community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods: Public Health England initiated enhanced national surveillance following the reopening of educational settings during the summer mini-term on 01 June 2020. COVID-19 related situations in educational settings across England were reviewed daily and followed-up until 31 July 2020. SARS-CoV-2 infection and outbreak rates were calculated for staff and students attending early year settings, primary and secondary schools during June 2020.
Findings: There were 67 single confirmed cases, 4 co-primary cases and 30 COVID-19 outbreaks during June 2020, with a strong correlation between number of outbreaks and regional COVID-19 incidence (0.51 outbreaks for each SARS-CoV-2 infection per 100,000 in the community; p=0.001). Overall, SARS-CoV-2 infections and outbreaks were uncommon across all educational settings. Staff members had an increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infections compared to students in any educational setting, and the majority of cases linked to outbreaks were in staff. The probable transmission direction for the 30 confirmed outbreaks was: staff-to-staff (n=15), staff-to-student (n=7), student-to-staff (n=6) and student-to-student (n=2).
Interpretation: SARS-CoV2 infections and outbreaks were uncommon in educational settings during the first month after the easing of national lockdown in England. The strong correlation with regional SARS-CoV-2 incidence emphasises the importance of controlling community transmission to protect educational settings. Additional interventions should focus on reducing transmission in and among staff members.
Declaration of Interests: The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
Ethics Approval Statement: PHE has legal permission, provided by Regulation 3 of The Health Service (Control of Patient Information) Regulations 2002, to process patient confidential information for national surveillance of communicable diseases and as such, individual patient consent is not required.
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, schools, children, transmission, outbreak
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation