Teachers may play significant role in COVID-19 spread at school, CDC finds

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Teachers were central to in-school transmission of COVID-19 at a Georgia school district, according to findings published Feb. 22 by the CDC. 

A CDC investigation conducted from Dec. 1 to Jan. 22 in Cobb County, Ga., identified nine COVID-19 clusters involving 13 educators and 32 students at six elementary schools. Two clusters involved probable educator-to-educator transmission, which was followed by educator-to-student transmission in classrooms and resulted in about half (15 of 31) of all school-associated cases.

About 2,600 elementary school students, or 80 percent of the district's students, and 700 employees attended elementary school in person during the investigation period. 

Investigators identified several COVID-19 mitigation challenges, such as students sitting less than 3 feet apart. In seven clusters, investigators found transmission among educators and students might have occurred during small group sessions in which educators worked in close proximity to students. Lack of or inadequate mask-wearing likely contributed to the spread in five clusters.

"These findings suggest that educators can play an important role in in-school transmission and that in-school transmission can occur when physical distancing and mask compliance are not optimal," the CDC concluded.

Though not required for reopening schools, the agency also recommends considering COVID-19 vaccination as a mitigation measure. To read the CDC's new guidance for school reopening, click here. 


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