HOUSTON – School districts operating in-person instruction have seen relatively low transmissions of COVID-19, according to new research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study thanks to policies that mandate mask-wearing, social distancing, and other COVID-19 prevention measures.
“As many schools have reopened for in-person instruction in some parts of the US as well as internationally, school-related cases of COVID-19 have been reported, but there has been little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission,” researchers concluded.
The report recommends schools require mitigation measures, in order for in-person to work, including wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, increasing ventilation indoors and using a “hybrid” approach that combines in-person and online learning when necessary to avoid crowding in classrooms. The guidelines also said testing should be expanded so infected teachers or students can be identified quickly and isolated.
“Decisions made today can help ensure safe operation of schools and provide critical services to children and adolescents in the U.S.,” according to the report.
The report does caution some in-school activities, particularly athletic events, finding:
“Nonetheless, some school-related activities have increased the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission among students and staff. Numerous media reports of COVID-19 outbreaks among US high school athletic teams suggest that contact during both practices and competition, and at social gatherings associated with team sports, increase risk.”
The debate over whether to fully re-open schools has been fiery throughout the pandemic, with most area school districts offering a hybrid in-person/virtual option for parents, depending on their preference.
Overall, area doctors and medical experts agree in-person learning is the best approach; however, in order to return fully to in-person learning, school districts and communities as a whole have to follow tight specific protocols.