• Soumik Saha

Health experts praise schools after data shows drop in Covid-19 infections

PUPILS in primary and secondary schools had significantly lower levels of Covid19 infections in June 2021 than they did in autumn 2020, new data has revealed.

A report from the Schools Infection Survey (SIS), released this week, also confirmed that infections among secondary school staff were substantially lower this summer compared to last autumn.

The survey was carried out across 141 schools in the country over six time periods, every two months since late last year.

Dr Patrick Nguipdop-Djomo, assistant professor of epidemiology at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and co-investigator of the study, said: “It is encouraging to see that the prevalence of COVID-19 infection in schools has remained lower than in the autumn term 2020, and the high vaccine uptake in school staff taking part in the study. This is a testament to the huge amount of work done in schools to prevent and reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.”

On the day of testing for the survey in June 2021, only 0.27% of the primary school students were confirmed positive. This is only a small difference from May 2021, but significantly lower than the autumn term 2020 when 0.89% had the infection.

Dr Shamez Ladhani, consultant paediatrician at Public Health England and study lead, said: “Through this study we’ve closely monitored the risks of COVID-19 in schools. Keeping community infection rates low remains critical for keeping children safe and schools open safely.”

The percentage of positive tested pupils in secondary schools was 0.42%. This was higher than the May figures, but significantly lower level compared to the autumn term of 2020 when 1.42% had the infection.

The study also revealed that 92.93% of staff had received at least one vaccine dose by the end of June 2021. 70.47% had received both doses, which is significantly higher than what it was in March and May 2021.

In secondary schools, only 0.27% of staff tested positive for COVID19 infection, which was similar to numbers in March 2021, but significantly lower than the autumn term 2020.

However, for June 2021, the number of positive test results from primary school staff was too small to be revealed.

Overall, the data suggest that adult vaccination, and other ‘school-gate’ measures such as the rapid asymptomatic testing programme, and measures like social distancing, have contributed to reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection in schools.

The study was jointly led by Public Health England, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Office for National Statistics.


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