CDC: Little evidence shows COVID-19 outbreaks are linked to classrooms

The agency sites three studies, one involving 11 school districts in North Carolina last fall.
Updated: Jan. 27, 2021 at 11:08 AM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - New findings from three researchers affiliated with the CDC say there is little evidence to show COVID-19 outbreaks are linked to classrooms. These new findings were published late January, 2021.

The researchers site three studies in their findings, one involving 11 school districts in North Carolina last fall.

That same study says results showed over a 9-week period that 11 participating school districts had more than 90,000 students and staff attend school in-person.

Within those participating schools, there were “773 community-acquired SARS-CoV-2 infections documented by molecular testing.”

The study goes on to say, through contact tracing, NC health department staff found an additional 32 infections were acquired within schools.

However, there were no reports of instances of child-to-adult transmission of SARS-CoV-2 within schools.

“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,” reported findings from the CDC researchers.

The study did note that there is little evidence of in-school transmission as long as strict safety measures are in place like mask wearing, social distancing and other precautionary measures.

The CDC says this is “reassuring” and that schools may be able to fully reopen with safety protocols like social distancing and face masks.

It’s also reassuring for many CMS parents who are hoping this data will make an impact on the upcoming CMS decision for in-person school.

The CMS Board of Education is expected to start reviewing cases next week and take a vote on the Feb. 9 meeting.

“You cannot teach someone to read on videos. You can’t teach them this crazy math on videos. It’s frustrating. It’s sad. They have days where it seems impossible,” said Meg Kemp, who is a CMS mom to a kindergartener and 3rd grader.

WBTV News requested a statement from CMS regarding the new report linked to the CDC. They said community transmission still puts people inside schools at risk.

“While it is true that schools are not seen as increasing community transmission, we know that while community transmission is high we will see that impact in our school buildings. We agree that often with community spread, there are risks of exposure outside of school through social gatherings and that increases the risk of bringing the virus into our buildings. We believe that we have safety measures in place that were referenced such as: mask-wearing, social distancing, hand sanitizer stations and symptoms screening protocols. In addition to the safety precautions in the schools, the community must be committed to prioritizing schools opening at the potential cost of other conveniences (in-door dining, bars, etc.). This can be accomplished more effectively with the appropriate limitations being adhered to in other settings.”

CMS did not respond to our question asking if this study would be considered during their decision.

The study also went on to say that some school-related activities like indoor sports, practices and events were cited as contributing factors for spread, whereas in-person learning did not.

With that, the CDC is continuing to recommend limits on things like gyms and indoor dining.

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