B.C. schools are unlikely COVID transmission sites: study

Despite ongoing concerns from some parents, new research suggests schools in our province are a low risk for COVID-19 transmission. Richard Zussman has reaction to the Vancouver-based study and how its findings could shape school openings and closures going forward.

A study of school staff in Vancouver says their risk of developing COVID-19 through contact at school is identical to their risk of catching the virus in the community.

The study by researchers from BC Children’s Hospital, the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health examined COVID-19 infections among teachers and staff throughout the Vancouver district.

Blood samples taken from 1,556 school staff showed 2.3 per cent tested positive for antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19, mirroring the number of positive tests from a matching group of donors who did not work in schools.

Researchers say the findings show the limited chance of developing COVID-19 through contact in a school setting.

Read more:
COVID-19: B.C. planning for ‘near-normal’ return for K-to-12 students this fall

The study has not yet been peer-reviewed but was published in preprint form in order to share the details quickly.

Dr. Louise Mâsse, the article’s co-lead researcher and a professor in the School of Population and Public Health at UBC, says it’s hoped the findings will guide future decisions about school openings and closures.

Vancouver School District superintendent Suzanne Hoffman says it’s important schools stay open, not just for learning but for the social, mental and physical well-being of students.

“These results reaffirm that with the protocols we have in place, schools are safe places to teach and learn,” she said in a statement.

Read more:
From babies to bridge crossings, a data dive into how COVID-19 changed B.C.

The study was funded by the federal government through its COVID-19 Immunity Task Force.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 22, 2021.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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