Alliance for Pandemic Preparedness

February 13, 2021

The Effects of School Closures on SARS-CoV-2 among Parents and Teachers



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Sweden kept schools open for in-person instruction for younger students (primary and lower-secondary) while closing schools for older students (upper-secondary), allowing for an evaluation of school closures on SARS-CoV-2 transmission. The rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection among lower-secondary teachers (who taught children age 14 to 16 in person) was twice as high (7.4 cases per 1,000) as the rate among upper-secondary teachers (who taught children age 16 to 19 online) (4.7 per 1,000; OR=2). In contrast, primary school teachers had a lower rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection (3.8 to 4.8 cases per 1,000 for lower and upper primary school, respectively). 

Partners of lower-secondary teachers were more likely to develop COVID-19 than partners of upper-secondary teachers (OR=1.3). Parents of children attending school in-person were also more likely to test positive (OR=1.17) than parents of children whose schools remained closed to in-person instruction. 

Measures to limit transmission in schools that were open were minimal, with no quarantine of those exposed unless they showed symptoms of infection, no reductions in class-size, and face masks rarely used. 

Vlachos et al. (Mar 2, 2021). The Effects of School Closures on SARS-CoV-2 among Parents and Teachers. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.