Study Looks at Optimal Strategy for Reopening Schools in U.K.
Second study from Australia shows low SARS-CoV-2 transmission rates in educational setting
WEDNESDAY, Aug. 5, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Population-wide testing and effective contact tracing are necessary to prevent an epidemic rebound following school reopening in the United Kingdom; and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission rates were low in an educational setting in Australia, according to two studies published online Aug. 3 in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.
Jasmina Panovska-Griffiths, D.Phil., from University College London, and colleagues simulated six scenarios to represent two school reopening strategies (full-time and part-time rota system) and three testing scenarios. The researchers found that an epidemic rebound might be prevented with increased levels of testing and effective contact tracing and isolation. If schools return full-time in September, assuming 68 percent of contacts could be traced, 75 percent of individuals with symptomatic infection would need to be tested and positive cases isolated compared with 65 percent if a part-time rota system was implemented.
Kristine Macartney, M.D., from The Children's Hospital at Westmead in Australia, and colleagues examined SARS-CoV-2 transmission among children and staff in schools and early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings during the first COVID-19 epidemic wave. Fifteen schools and 10 ECEC settings had children or adults attend while infectious (12 and 15, respectively), with 1,448 contacts monitored. A total of 18 secondary cases were identified (attack rate, 1.2 percent), five of which were asymptomatic. Five secondary cases were identified in three schools (attack rate, 0.5 percent). One outbreak in one ECEC setting involved transmission to six adults and seven children (attack rate, 35.1 percent).
"Governments around the world need to find solutions that allow children and young adults to return to full-time education as safely and as quickly as possible," write the authors of an accompanying editorial.