The 800 reasons kids should go back to school: How 863 contacts were tested after 18 came down with coronavirus… and only TWO were positive
- Researchers tested how coronavirus could spread through schools in NSW
- Eighteen students caught the virus in a month and all their contacts were traced
- All 128 teachers and 735 children were tested for antibodies to see if they got it
- Only two additional kids and zero teachers were infected by any of those 18
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Only two schoolchildren in NSW caught coronavirus from 18 classmates who came down with the disease, a study has found.
Schools across the state will reopen on May 11 and be full by July despite a revolt by the teacher’s union in NSW and elsewhere.
Despite teachers’ fears that restarting face-to-face classes will put them at risk, new research found not a single one caught it from a student.
The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance probe looked at all 18 cases of COVID-19 found across 15 NSW schools between March and mid-April.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian greets students during a visit to Prestons Public School in Sydney. She is keen for classes to look like this again next month
Researchers tracked the nine teachers and nine students confirmed as COVID-19 cases along with their 863 close contacts – some 735 students and 128 school staff members.
They found only two additional cases of COVID-19 – one primary school student and one high school student, neither of whom had passed on the virus to other people.
The researchers found no cases in which students infected staff with the coronavirus.
NCIRS Professor Kristine Macartney on Sunday told reporters the findings showed there was a low rate of COVID-19 transmission within schools and between children.
‘I hope it provides strong reassurance of the safety of a return to school,’ Prof Macartney said.
‘At the beginning of the pandemic, it has been quite surprising.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has slammed teachers’ unions protesting the return to classrooms
‘Our report really fits well with evidence from other countries, China, the very first report from the WHO, Iceland, the Netherlands, all consistently showing children have very low rates of infection and get mild disease … it’s behaving very differently to other viruses.’
The federal government is increasing pressure on the states to return schools to normal as soon as possible, while jurisdictions continue to take a range of approaches.
NSW will from May 11 reintroduce face-to-face teaching for students on one day per week, ramping up to full attendance by the start of term three in late July.
NSW Department of Education secretary Mark Scott on Sunday said social distancing behaviour would still be required between teachers and parents.
He said a staggered approach to the resumption of schooling would remain necessary in order to help parents build confidence about their children’s safety on campus.
States have been divided over arrangements to reopen schools for term two. A sign is pictured outside St Kilda Primary school notifying of limited access under remote learning restrictions on April 15, 2020
‘What we’re saying particularly to our school principals and leadership teams is, think about how your staff are deployed, how your staffrooms operate, how you hold meetings … think carefully about how socially distancing best applies,’ Mr Scott told reporters.
‘We do want to provide that reassurance there will be space in schools and ensure there are not crowds congregating at the school gate, not having parents at the school.’
NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said that as of Sunday, 52 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in NSW in those aged between five and 17, with three minors hospitalised.