Teachers of primary school classes not at greater risk of Covid than other workers, says top European survey.

14 January 2021 By Paul Martin

NOTE: In the UK, an Office of National Statistics survey showed that British primary, secondary and tertiary teachers are not at greater risk of dying from Covid-19… just as we reported in regard to primary school teachers eleven days earlier. Nevertheless, this month, January 2021, teachers unions were threatening to take the government to court to stop them reopening even primary schools.

On BBC Politics Live on January 26 2021 : Sir Mark Walport, the UK Government’s former Chief Scientific Adviser said teachers don’t have anything a greater chance than other people in the working age population of catching Covid. We know that transmission does increase, he said, but it could be from the school gate to the playground etc. We need to look at the whole transmission, from and to the school.

Anne Longfield, children’s commissioner: PHE announced today that outbreaks of Covid only occurred during the term from September to December in three percent of primary schools.

Covid19 and Schools, 1st Update (europa.eu)

Educational staff and adults working within the school setting are generally not seen to be at a higher risk of infection than people working outside the home in other occupations, a major European survey has concluded.

It adds that this applies specifically to those working in primary schools, rather than teachers or staff working in secondary schools. ‘Older children and/or many adults may be associated with a higher risk,’ it adds, and this might result in higher inflection rates among the teachers and workers involved with that age group.

The survey, called ‘COVID-19 in children and the role of school
settings in transmission’, was conducted by the European Centre for Disease Protection and Control, an official body of the European Union.

It has now excluded the United Kingdom from its survey results.

Other points made are:

  • The return to school of children around mid-August 2020 coincided with a general relaxation of other NPI measures in many countries and does not appear to have been a driving force in the upsurge in cases observed in many EU Member States from October 2020. Trends in case notification rates observed since August 2020 for children aged 16-18 years most closely resemble those of adults aged 19-39 years.
  • Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 can occur within school settings and clusters have been reported in preschools, primary and secondary schools. Incidence of COVID-19 in school settings appear to be impacted by levels of community transmission. Where epidemiological investigation has occurred, transmission in schools has accounted for a minority of all COVID-19 cases in each country.
  • Non-pharmaceutical interventions in school settings in the form of physical distancing that prevent crowding as well as hygiene and safety measures are essential to preventing transmission. Measures must be adapted to the setting and age group and consider the need to prevent transmission as well as to provide children with an optimal learning and social environment.

But see this addendum:

 Note regarding the evolving situation surrounding the new SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern (VOC 202012/01) identified in the United Kingdom •

There are media reports that the new variant may be more able to infect children, but this is not yet confirmed, and detailed data are awaited [1]. • Should these initial reports about increased transmissibility of VOC 20212/01 in children prove to be accurate, this could have implications for the effectiveness of intervention measures in school settings, and of potential school closures, in countries where there are high rates of circulation of this variant. •