Infectious Disease

Examine finds “restricted” SARS-CoV-2 transmission in NC faculty districts

March 04, 2021

2 min read

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According to a study published in Pediatrics, investigators found that only 32 SARS-CoV-2 infections occurred in 11 North Carolina school districts during a 9-week period of face-to-face learning last year.

The results suggest that secondary transmission is far less common in schools than in the community, the researchers said.

The schools participated in a program called ABC Science Collaborative (ABCs) “to implement public health measures to prevent the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and share lessons learned,” they said. North Carolina opened schools for hybrid learning that combined distance and face-to-face learning.

Kanecia O. Zimmerman, MD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Duke University School of Medicine in North Carolina, and colleagues evaluated 11 of 56 ABCs participating school districts from August 15 to October 23 to track the incidence and secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-. 2.

According to the authors, faculty and staff developed ABCs with three goals: educating school leaders, staff, and the community; make school-specific data-driving decisions; and generate new scientific knowledge to improve health-related outcomes for children.

“In the course of the first quarter of the class, the participating school districts agreed on a memorandum of understanding in order to exchange the knowledge gained,” the authors wrote.

Starting 3 weeks prior to the start of the school year and during all 9 weeks of the study period, the ABCs offered 60-minute webinars and Q&A sessions focusing on the prevention, transmission, and outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 infection for management and administration focused staff and parents of students.

Of the 115 school districts in North Carolina, only 56 participated in the ABC Science Collaboration. Of these 56, 35 districts offered face-to-face tuition for part of the 9-week study period, but the 11 districts that the authors reported had face-to-face tuition throughout the study period.

The authors found that 773 SARS-CoV-2 infections occurred in the communities of the 11 school districts during the study period, compared with 32 cases in the schools.

“If secondary transmission were as common in schools as it is in the community, we would expect 800 to 900 secondary infections in schools,” they wrote.

Of the 11 districts, six had no secondary infections, two had only one, and three districts had multiple. Six cases of secondary transmission occurred in the pre-K environment, eleven in elementary schools, six in middle schools, five in high schools, and four in K-12 schools. There were no cases of child-to-adult transmission within the school.

“Our cohort study showed that enforcement of SARS-CoV-2 abatement policies such as masking, physical distancing, and hand hygiene resulted in minimal clusters of SARS-CoV-2 infections and low secondary transmission rates in schools, and none caused a greater burden of infection in the community “Wrote the authors.

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