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With masking requirements and student cohorting, transmission risk within schools appeared low.

January 2021 

As per a new report from the CDC, with masking requirements and student cohorting, transmission risk within schools appeared low, suggesting that schools might be able to safely open with appropriate mitigation efforts in place. 

"Among 17 rural Wisconsin schools, reported student mask-wearing was high, and the COVID-19 incidence among students and staff members was lower than in the county overall (3,453 versus 5,466 per 100,000). Among 191 cases identified in students and staff members, only seven (3.7%) cases, all among students, were linked to in-school spread. 

It is important to note that a number of infection mitigation measures were employed at the schools. The Legacy Foundation of Central Wisconsin provided funding for the districts to purchase 2–3-layer cloth face coverings for all students, and all students received three to five masks as a result of this grant. All schools were under district and statewide mask mandates during the study period. Students were asked to wear masks when within 6 feet of another person outdoors and at all times indoors. A classroom cohort included students from one grade level who avoided mixing with other students and ranged in size from 11 to 20 students. All classes and lunch periods were held indoors. Schools generally attempted to seat students near the same person within their cohort, if possible. Staff members were instructed to wear masks, maintain a distance of 6 feet from all persons, if possible, and limit time in shared indoor spaces. If a student was excluded from in-person school because of COVID-19 symptoms, that student’s siblings also were excluded from school. No systematic COVID-19 screening was conducted in the schools or the community. 

This study, involving students and staff members in 17 K–12 schools in five rural Wisconsin districts under district and statewide mask mandates, found high teacher-reported student masking compliance. Among 5,530 students and staff members, 191 COVID-19 cases were reported. Only seven (3.7%) of these cases were associated with in-school transmission, all in students. Despite widespread community transmission, COVID-19 incidence in schools conducting in-person instruction was 37% lower than that in the surrounding community.

Children might be more likely to be asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 than are adults (4). In the present study, the absence of identified child-to-staff member transmission during the 13-week study period suggests in-school spread was uncommon. This apparent lack of transmission is consistent with recent research (5), which found an asymptomatic attack rate of only 0.7% within households and a lower rate of transmission from children than from adults. However, this study was unable to rule out asymptomatic transmission within the school setting because surveillance testing was not conducted. "

Talk with your doctor and Pediatrician before returning to school. Each family may need an individual plan. 

To read the full report visit https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7004e3.htm?s_cid=mm7004e3_w


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