The CDC has released a new study showing teachers and school staff may play a “central role” in preventing the transmission of COVID-19 in schools where social distancing and face masks are not enforced.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted the study within eight Georgia public elementary schools in the same district between December 1 and January 22, according to the study.
The results, released on Monday, found that within the 24-in person learning days, the average number of cases per 100,000 residents in the county increased by 300%, CNBC reported.
“Educators played an important role in the spread of Covid-19 in the schools. Covid-19 spread often occurred during in-person meetings or lunches and then subsequently spread in classrooms,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said.
“The two main reasons for the spread of Covid-19 in these schools were inadequate physical distancing and mask adherence in the schools.”
In the study, the CDC examined seating charts, classroom layouts, physical distancing and mask use during in-person learning and found “less than ideal” standards.
Students were unable to practice social distancing due to volume of class sizes and the proximity of desks to one another. It would be up to teachers and school staff to enforce social distancing guidelines as well as mask-wearing.
The CDC has additionally advised states to prioritize vaccinating teachers and school staff “as soon as supply allows.” This would also be a huge step in preventing transmission of coronavirus in schools.
According to researchers, “Although not required for reopening schools, COVID-19 vaccination should be considered as an additional mitigation measure to be added when available.”