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Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
December 21, 2020
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Attending school in person not associated with COVID-19, study finds

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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A study of nearly 400 children in Mississippi found that in-person attendance at school or child care was not associated with a positive test for SARS-CoV-2, investigators reported in MMWR.

The investigation by Charlotte V. Hobbs, MD, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and colleagues determined that children were more likely to test positive if they had close contact with a person with COVID-19 — and that these contacts were more likely to be family members than classmates at school or child care.

Source: CDC.gov

They also found that children were more likely to test positive if they reported that students and staff did not consistently wear masks while in school.

The study included 397 children who received SARS-CoV-2 testing from Sept. 1 to Nov. 5 — 154 who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 and 243 negative controls.

Of the total participants, 62% of case participants and 68% of control participants reported they were in school within 2 weeks before SARS-CoV-2 test results were reported. Thus, in-person attendance was not associated with a positive test (adjusted OR = 0.8; 95% CI, 0.5-1.3), Hobbs and colleagues said.

Of 236 children older than 2 years of age who attended in-person school 14 days prior to SARS-CoV-2 testing, parents of 64% of case patients and 76% of control patients reported that their child and all staff members wore a mask inside of the building (aOR = 0.4; 95% CI, 0.2-0.8), the researchers reported.

In the 14 days prior to SARS-CoV-2 testing, case patients were more likely to have had close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 (aOR = 3.2; 95% CI, 2-5), more likely to have attended gatherings with those outside of their household (aOR = 2.4; 95% CI, 1.1-5.5), held activities with other children (aOR = 3.3; 95% CI, 1.3-8.4), or had visitors in their home (aOR = 1.9; 95% CI, 1.2-2.9) than those in the control group.

“Close contacts with persons with COVID-19 and gatherings contribute to SARS-CoV-2 infections in children and adolescents,” the authors wrote. “Consistent use of masks, social distancing, isolation of infected persons and quarantine of those who are exposed to the virus continue to be important to prevent COVID-19 spread.”