A small-scale study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shown that teachers might be playing a more crucial role in fueling the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in schools as compared to young children. The study has been based on data from public elementary schools in Marietta and Georgia. Health experts have looked at the data from eight schools from Dec 1, 2020, to January 22, 2021. Around 2600 students and 700 school staff members have been attending these schools during this time. During the study, experts have found at least nine clusters of COVID19, which have included around 13 teachers and 32 students in six of these schools. Experts have revealed that a teacher has been found to be the index patient or initial case in four of these clusters, while a student has been found to be the patient zero in just one cluster. However, the index patient has not been identified in the other four clusters. Experts believe that eight of the nine clusters might have taken place due to the transmission of the virus from educators to students. The study has found that two of the biggest clusters have seen teacher-to-teacher transmission of the virus that might have taken place during staff meetings or lunch breaks. Later, infected educators might have transmitted the SARS-CoV-2 virus to multiple children. The SARS-CoV-2 virus leads to COVID19. Experts have revealed that around half of school-related COVID19 cases, which have been included in the study, are the outcomes of these two massive clusters.
The authors of the study have said that teachers have been the main reason behind the spread of the virus in schools. They have said that initial COVID19 infections among teachers have played an essential role in the transmission of the virus during in-person learning and the ensuing chain of cases. Health experts who have been involved in the study have said that it is crucial to prevent further spread of infection among teachers specifically. The findings of the study have been announced after the CDC has issued important guidelines to reopen schools safely across the country recently. The outcomes of the study from the CDC have supported the results of past studies as well. Past research from the UK has shown that teacher-to-teacher transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is more common as compared to the student-to-student spread of the virus. A Study, which has been done by health experts from Germany, has revealed that the rate of COVID19 spread is three times higher when a teacher is an index patient as compared to when a student is an initial case of the cluster.
The authors of the study have advised that school authorities need to take more stringent precautionary measures to prevent the transmission of the virus among teachers. The study has highlighted that school officials need to minimize interactions between adults in the schools that might reduce the rapid spread of the virus. Experts have informed that the Georgia school district has already stepped up to reduce in-person contact among teachers. The lead author of the study has said that inoculating teachers might help prevent the rapid spread of the virus in schools. While some experts have said that the safe reopening of the schools does not require vaccinations of the teachers. The CDC study has shown that the rapid transmission of the virus has taken place in schools due to non-compliance with ideal physical distancing. It means students and teachers have been in close proximity to each other in schools, and students have not been wearing masks properly. It shows that there is a need to promote proper mask usage and maintaining physical distance at schools.