Reopening schools in a number of EU countries has not led to a significant increase in community transmission of Covid-19, new research indicates.
The evidence from contact tracing and observational data from a number of EU countries, including Denmark and the Netherlands, suggests that reopening schools has not led to a significant increase in Covid-19.
That’s according to the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC), which examined the role of schools and children in the spread of the virus across Europe.
Schools are not "risk-free" settings but interventions such as physical distancing, good ventilation, cleaning and hand-washing help to mitigate these risks, according to the ECDC.
Face coverings can also help to potentially reduce the spread of droplets.
Based on available evidence, measures in the community including physical distancing, the cancellation of mass gatherings, hand hygiene and staying home if symptomatic remain “integral” to prevent schools from being a setting for “accelerating onward transmission”, the report notes.
According to the report, cases examined that were identified in school settings suggest that child to child transmission in schools is “uncommon”.
In many cases, schools were not the primary source of infection in children whose onset of the virus coincides with the period they were attending.
While very few significant outbreaks of Covid-19 in schools have been documented, they do occur, according to the report. Such cases may be difficult to detect due to the relative lack of symptoms in children.
However, when appropriate physical distancing and hygiene measures are applied, the virus is “unlikely” to propagate in schools more than in other occupational or leisure settings with similar densities of people.
What is the role of children in #COVID19 transmission?— ECDC (@ECDC_EU) August 6, 2020
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The report also found that closures of creches and schools are unlikely to be an effective singular measure against the spread of community transmission.
“Decisions on control measures in schools and school closures/openings should be consistent with decisions on other physical distancing and public health response measures within the community," the report said.
School closures following outbreaks are unlikely to be timely enough to affect local epidemics, and reopenings have not led to increased cases, it also concludes.