(Reuters) – Teachers can play an important role in the transmission of COVID-19 within schools, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Monday, citing a study conducted in elementary schools in a Georgia school district.
The report comes after agency researchers said last month there was little evidence that schools were spreading COVID-19 infections in the country, based in part on a study of schools in Wisconsin, easing concerns. about allowing in-person learning. The Wisconsin study found significantly less spread of the virus within schools compared to transmission in surrounding communities.
An investigation involving about 2,600 students and 700 staff members from elementary schools in a Georgia school district showed nine clusters of COVID-19 cases involving 13 educators and 32 students in six elementary schools, the CDC said.
Of these, two groups involved probable teacher-to-teacher transmission that was followed by teacher-to-student transmission in classrooms, the agency said in its Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report.
Transmission by teachers resulted in about half of the 31 school-related cases, according to the investigation.
The study was subject to some limitations, including difficulty in determining whether coronavirus transmission occurred at school or in the local community, the agency noted.
Distinguishing between the two types of transmission was particularly difficult when the 7-day average number of cases per 100,000 people exceeded 150, the agency said.
The CDC said that vaccinating educators against COVID-19 should be viewed as an additional mitigation measure to be added when available, although it is not a requirement for schools to reopen.
Report of Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Bill Berkrot