Prospective Active National Surveillance of Preschools and Primary Schools for SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Transmission in England, June 2020

SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Transmission in Primary Schools in England in June–December, 2020 (sKIDs): An Active, Prospective Surveillance Study, 2021

27 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2021 Last revised: 27 Mar 2021

See all articles by Shamez N. Ladhani

Shamez N. Ladhani

Government of the United Kingdom - Immunisation and Countermeasures Division; St. George’s University of London - Paediatric Infectious Diseases Research Group

Date Written: January 11, 2021

Abstract

Background: Many countries re-opened schools after national lockdown but little is known about the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission in educational settings. Public Health England conducted six-month prospective surveillance in primary schools across England.

Methods: The COVID-19 Surveillance in School KIDs (sKIDs) study included two arms: weekly nasal swabs for ≥4 weeks following partial reopening during the summer half-term (June to mid-July 2020) and blood sampling with nasal and throat swabs at the beginning and end of the summer half-term, and, following full reopening in September 2020, at the end of the autumn term (end-November 2020).

Results: In round 1, 12,026 participants (59.1% students, 40.9% staff) in 131 schools had 43,091 swabs taken. Weekly SARS-CoV-2 infection rates were 3.9 (1/25,537; 95% CI, 0.10-21.8) and 11.3 (2/17,554; 95% CI, 1.4-41.2) per 100,000 students and staff. At recruitment, N-antibody positivity in 45 schools was 11.1% (91/817; 95%CI, 9.2-13.5%) in students and 15.1% (209/1381; 95%CI, 13.3-17.1%) in staff, similar to local community seroprevalence. Seropositivity was not associated with school attendance during lockdown or staff contact with students. Round 2 participation was 73.7% (1,619/2,198) and only five (4 students, 1 staff) seroconverted. In round 3, when 61.9% (1,361/2,198) of round 1 participants were re-tested, seroconversion rates were 3.4% (19/562; 95%CI, 2.0-5.2) in students and 3.9% (36/930; 95%CI, 2.7-5.3) in staff.

Conclusions: SARS-CoV-2 infection rates, assessed using nasal swabs for acute infection and serum antibodies for prior infection, were low following partial and full reopening of primary schools in England.

Funding: Department of Health

Note: Funding: This surveillance was funded by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)

Declaration of Interests: None of the authors have any conflict of interest.

Ethics Approval Statement: The surveillance protocol was approved by the Public Health England Research Ethics Governance Group (R&D REGG Ref: NR0209, 16 May 2020).

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2 infection, COVID-19, schools, transmission, students, teachers

JEL Classification: I1

Suggested Citation

Ladhani, Shamez N., Prospective Active National Surveillance of Preschools and Primary Schools for SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Transmission in England, June 2020 (January 11, 2021). SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Transmission in Primary Schools in England in June–December, 2020 (sKIDs): An Active, Prospective Surveillance Study, 2021, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3764198 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3764198

Shamez N. Ladhani (Contact Author)

Government of the United Kingdom - Immunisation and Countermeasures Division ( email )

61 Colindale Avenue
London, NW9 5EQ
United Kingdom

St. George’s University of London - Paediatric Infectious Diseases Research Group

London
United Kingdom

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