CDC study suggests coronavirus doesn’t spread as widely in schools with safety guidelines

Serious outbreak risk is low if precautions are taken


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study is revealing more about how COVID-19 spreads within classroom settings, News 6 partner News4Jax reported.

The study suggests that with proper safety protocols, there’s relatively little risk of a serious outbreak.

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The research released Tuesday suggests that COVID-19 doesn’t spread as widely in schools that are following safety guidelines on masks, social distancing and student cohorting as it does outside of schools.

For the study, the CDC looked at data from 17 K-12 schools in rural Wisconsin from the end of August 2020 to the end of November 2020.

At those schools, student mask-wearing was high, and the rate of COVID-19 within the schools was lower than in the county overall.

For the students and staff, the cases averaged 3,453 per 100,000, but for the county at large, it was 5,466 per 100,000.

Among 191 cases identified in students and staff members, only seven cases, all among students, were linked to in-school spread, according to the study.

The researchers said this suggests that with masks, social distancing and keeping students in smaller, consistent groups, the risk of an outbreak is significantly reduced.

A viewpoint published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association said: “Accumulating data now suggest a path forward to maintain or return primarily or fully to in-person instructional delivery. Actions include taking steps to reduce community transmission and limiting school-related activities such as indoor sports practice or competition that could increase transmission risk.”

It should be noted that the data collected for these studies was collected before the emergence of new coronavirus variants and before the holiday breaks, which are suspected of causing more robust outbreaks in the past few weeks.

About the Author:

McLean is a reporter with WJXT, covering education and breaking news. He is a frequent contributer to the News4Jax I-team and Facing the Fall coverage.