Study finds teachers risk of contracting COVID in school no higher than in day-to-day life

A recent study on the prevalence of COVID-19 infections in school staff who maintained in-person schooling during the 2020 school year found they are no more likely to get the virus at work than they are in day-to-day life in their communities, reported The 74.

Full- or part-time school staff in the K-12 Vancouver School District (British Columbia, Canada) self-enrolled in the study from February 3 to April 23, 2021. The district serves over 47,000 students and around 7,000 school staff. This area was selected because it was “one of the few, if not only…jurisdictions in North America that maintained in-person schooling during the 2020/21 school year.”

Authors of the study note that their research “is one of the largest to report seroprevalence estimates in the school setting in the later phases of the pandemic in the context of in-person schooling and widespread viral transmission.”

Despite high reported COVID-19 cases among students and staff, and frequent within-school exposures, we found no detectable increase in seroprevalence among school staff above the community seroprevalence. These findings corroborate claims that, with appropriate mitigation strategies, in-person schooling is not associated with significantly increased risk for school staff.

COVID-19 forced over a billion students out of school globally spring 2020, and debates ensued since over the risk of transmission within schools. Numerous studies have also since confirmed the serious implications school closures have had on children’s emotional, social, and educational outcomes. Teachers’ unions were a driving force behind keeping students and teachers out of the classrooms.

Just over half (54 percent) of districts and charter schools in Minnesota ended the school year in-person, according to the Minnesota Department of Education’s Safe Learning Model Dashboard.