COVID-19 outbreaks in schools are not common with few students and teachers testing positive – and a very small number of close contacts contracting the virus.
New data published by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH) last week looked at cases of COVID-19 since classrooms reopened in mid-August.
Researchers found that less than 0.1 percent each of pupils and staff members tested positive for the virus over the course of a month.
What’s more, only about 0.2 percent of people who came into contact with a Covid patient later tested positive themselves.
The findings suggest that outbreaks in schools are not frequent and that Los Angles County was successful in fully reopening its schools safely.
New data found a total of 7,995 students out of 1.5 million, or 0.5%, and 1,193 staff out of 157,000, or 0.7%, have tested positive for COVID-19
Out of more than 30,000 close contacts of COVID-19 patients, just 63 went on to contact the virus, equivalent to 0.2%. Pictured: Students walk to their classrooms at a middle school in El Sereno, East Los Angeles, September 10
The LA County report looked at COVID-19 cases among students in grades K-12 and in staff members.
Between August 15 and September 13, 7,995 students and 1,193 staff tested positive for COVID-19.
With about than 1.5 million students in county schools and 175,000 staff that means 0.5 percent of children and 0.7 percent workers have contracted the virus since schools reopening.
‘This is just slightly higher than the 0.4 percent rate of infection we experienced overall in the county,’ LADPH Director Barbara Ferrer said at a press briefing, according to the Los Angeles Times.
‘And, given the massive testing of asymptomatic individuals at schools, this very low rate of infection affirms the safety that’s provided to students and staff on their campuses.’
Health officials say COVID-19 protocols followed by the schools are likely cause for the low numbers, including indoor masking and universal testing by the Los Angeles Unified School District.
While it’s notable that a smaller percentage of students than teachers tested positive, it’s unknown how many of these students were vaccinated and how many teachers have received their shots.
Currently, only students aged 12 and above are eligible for COVID-19 vaccine with five-to-11-year-olds expected to become eligible by Halloween.
The county notes that, as of September 16, the case rate for the five-to-11 age group is 141 new cases per 100,000 and for 12-to-17 year-olds is 132 new cases per 100,000.
Additionally, over the last three weeks, COVID-19 cases fell across all child age groups by around 40 percent – comparable to the declining test positivity rate, Ferrer said at the briefing.
Over the last three weeks, COVID-19 cases fell across all child age groups by around 40% comparable to the declining test positivity rate, which is nearing 1%
LADPH Director Barbara Ferrer said at a press conference that the data are evidence that there is low Covid transmission at schools and few outbreaks as cases continue to fall in LA (above)
‘This is promising, since it’s occurring as students are going back to school,’ Ferrer said, according to the Times.
‘So we’re hopeful, with continued close attention to those school-based strategies that reduce the risk of exposure, we’ll continue to see these lower case rates across all age groups.’
Additionally, a very small percentage of children have tested positive after coming into contact with infected individuals.
According to the LADPH, more than 30,000 students and staff were forced to quarantine for seven days after being in contact with a patient.
However, just 63 of them went on to test positive themselves, equivalent to 0.2 percent.
Because of this, the LADPH said unvaccinated students will no longer have to be sent home to quarantine after coming into contact with a Covid-positive person.
The new policy allows unvaccinated close contacts to continue to attend in person classes as long as they test negative twice over a seven-day period, the Times reported.
However, they will not be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities, including sports.
‘We feel comfortable that, with relatively low transmission at schools, it’s appropriate to offer schools a modified quarantine option for K-12 students exposed to COVID at schools,’ Ferrer said at the briefing.