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'Educators Played Important Role': Teachers Key Spreaders Of COVID-19 In Schools, Says CDC

Instances of high community incidence for COVID-19 spread were identified in elementary schools in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta by US CDC officials.

US

Teachers might be the key drivers of the SARS-CoV-2 in-school transmission due to lack of physical distancing and mask compliance, a report compiled by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated, Monday. Instances of high community incidence for COVID-19 spread were identified in elementary schools in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta in December and January, the officials said, citing one cluster outbreak of the novel coronavirus where 16 teachers, students, and the immediate family members of the kids were infected. In at least 9 out of 10 clusters identified across Atlanta, the first documented case of coronavirus was a teacher, and not vice-versa, CDC said, referring to the investigations led across US school districts. 

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"To ensure safer in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, schools should implement multicomponent mitigation strategies, including efforts to prevent infection among educators, and promoting consistent, correct mask use, COVID-19 vaccination, when available, and physical distancing wherever possible,” the US CDC urged in the report, outlining the mandatory precautions that must be practiced during the school learning.  Warning about the high rate of transmission between teacher-to-student, the agency further stated all Marietta clusters that were identified by the health authorities involved instances of  “less than ideal physical distancing” wherein kids were not at least 3 feet apart from the tutors. Although the plexiglass was installed in the classroom, inadequate physical distancing and mask adherence led to the COVID-19 outbreak, as the classroom learning environment was significantly overcrowded. 

[Paraprofessional Jessica Wein helps Josh Nazzaro answer questions from his teacher while attending class virtually from his home in Wharton. Credit: AP]

“Educators played an important role in the spread," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters in an online conference. "COVID-19 spread often occurred during in-person meetings or lunches and then subsequently spread to classrooms,” he informed.

CDC: 'Opt for administrative changes'

Similarly in the UK, teacher-to-student transmissions were found to be the prominent reasons for cluster outbreaks in schools, while in Germany, this rate was detected to be three times higher. CDC urged the schools to opt for administrative changes such as imbibing more ‘prevent nonessential in-person interactions’ among educators and the kids. “7-day community incidence exceeded 150 cases per 100,000 persons and was increasing,” the agency warned citing the data gathered across the 8,700-student Marietta district. Atalanta Superintendent, Grant Rivera, in a statement revealed that at least 90 percent of the learning has switched from remote to in person, and until recently, the classrooms were never so crowded.  

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