Schools are not the main source of the spread of COVID-19 and are not causing a spike in cases, a new study suggests.
Researchers at the Institute of Tropical Medicine and International Health in Berlin looked at the results of Covid tests in dozens of classrooms between February 2021 and March 2021.
They found that only two students and one teacher tested positive, even when the Alpha variant that originated in the UK gained dominance in Germany.
The team says the findings show that clusters of COVID-19 infections are uncommon in schools and cases in classrooms are often isolated cases.
The new study adds to the growing body of research that classrooms are not linked to frequent outbreaks and that students and teachers are not testing positive more often than those in the general population.
A new study looked at nearly 1,000 students, teachers and household contacts in 24 classrooms in Berlin, Germany, in March 2021. Pictured: Students go to school in Berlin, August 2021
One study found six cases of COVID-19, two of which were among students, one among teachers and three among family members (above). The students and teachers who contracted the virus all went to different schools
For the study, published Tuesday in JAMA network opened, the team looked at 24 school classes – 12 primary and 12 secondary – across Berlin.
Of the 898 participants, 263 were students and 112 teachers. The remaining 523 were members of the household of pupils or staff.
In Germany, after the number of COVID-19 cases started to rise in mid-February, the country imposed a lockdown and closed schools.
In March 2021, schools reopened for in-person instruction, but many adopted a split-class model, with half the original class size attending on alternate weeks.
Researchers looked at COVID-19 cases both during the lockdown and two to three weeks after classes resumed.
Few Covid cases were detected in schools even as daily infections increased in Germany (above), suggesting low levels of infection in schools, researchers say
During the lockdown, the team found that only one symptomatic adult family member tested positive for the virus.
During this period, no students or teachers who have been swabbed have been confirmed to have the virus.
Four weeks later, in March 2021, the students returned to the schools, but with mitigating measures, including one meter between desks, increased ventilation and frequent wearing of masks.
Of the participants tested, six had confirmed infections: two students, one teacher and three family members.
In addition, the students and teachers who became ill with COVID-19 went to different schools.
New data from the LA County Department of Public Health shows that a total of 7,995 students out of 1.5 million, or 0.5%, and 1,193 employees out of 157,000, or 0.7%, have tested positive for COVID-19 , which officials say is evidence that Covid transmission is low in schools
The researchers say these cases were discovered even as the Alpha variant quickly spread across Germany, showing that schools are relatively safe even during peak times.
“In early 2021, we only detected isolated SARS-CoV-2 infections, no clusters and one school visitor with an infection,” the authors wrote.
“This low level of infection in schools confirms our previous data…. Our data supports that school closures should be the last resort in managing the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.
The study comes on the heels of a recent report from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH), who found that COVID-19 outbreaks in schools are not common with few students and teachers testing positive — and a very small number of close contacts contracting the virus.
Data published online shows that between August 15 and September 13, a total of 7,995 students and 1,193 employees tested positive for COVID-19.
With more than 1.5 million students in provincial schools and 175,000 employees, this means that 0.5 percent of children and 0.7 percent of employees have contracted the virus since schools reopened.
In addition, a very small percentage of children have tested positive after coming into contact with infected individuals.
According to the LADPH, more than 30,000 students and staff have been quarantined for seven days after contact with a patient.
However, only 63 of them tested positive themselves, which is equivalent to 0.2 percent.
LADPH health officials say the schools’ COVID-19 protocols are likely to blame for the low numbers, including indoor masking and universal testing by the Los Angeles Unified School District.