Researches found schools had lower rates of transmission compared to nursing homes and other crowded work settings.By Dr. Maria Simbra

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The CDC says the transmission of coronavirus during in-person instruction in schools is low as long as masks and distancing are enforced.

“The schools have to be creative and inventive on ways of getting the kids to come back,” says Dr. Joe Aracri, a pediatrician at AHN Pediatric Alliance. “Aligning the desks, making sure everybody’s facing the same direction, designating hallways for directions, so you’re not getting clumps of kids, not using your locker, but carrying things around.”

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The CDC researchers reviewed studies from the U.S. and other countries. They found schools had lower rates of transmission compared to nursing homes and other crowded work settings.

For instance, in a North Carolina study, only 32 cases came from the spread in school, compared to 773 from the community. In rural Wisconsin, only seven of 191 cases were acquired during in-school instruction.

Some infections have occurred from indoor sports. The report says school officials should restrict those.

“The riskier sports like wrestling, basketball, that are held in indoor space, indoor gyms,” says Dr. Aracri. “Outdoor sports like football, we’ll be coming up to lacrosse season, those sports are a little bit less risky because you’re playing on a large field, you’re outside. Areas are really well ventilated.”

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“You really have to look at the COVID rates in your community and the community you’re playing to see whether or not you want to participate,” he added.

The CDC report also says to keep schools open, local officials must be willing to limit other public activities — such as indoor dining, bars and poorly ventilated gyms — to keep community infection rates low.

But Dr. Aracri points out that some of the risker things we do are right under our noses.

“Social events that are held within the house seem to be a higher risk for exposure,” he said. “So whenever the kids get together after school for a pizza party or some kind of social event outside of their usual pod, that could be at risk for increased spread.”

In some parts of the country, infection rates are up for teachers. But they’re in the next priority group for the vaccine.

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“It’s very important that we have teachers to instruct our children,” Dr. Aracri said. “Masking, hand washing, distance should be able to keep our teacher safe from the spread from the students.”

Dr. Maria Simbra