CDC researchers find minimal spread of COVID-19 in schools following guidelines

Updated: Jan. 27, 2021 at 10:00 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - In a review, CDC researchers report little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission of COVID-19.

The authors found the type of rapid spread frequently observed in congregate living facilities or high-density worksites has not been reported in schools following mask and distancing guidelines.

In line with these findings, two Lubbock superintendents report minimal spread of Covid-19 actually occurring inside the classroom.

Dallas Grimes, at Roosevelt ISD, says out of more than a thousand students, there have been 53 positive cases since March, and a quarter of students have quarantined due to close contact.

“Very few of those though were close contact identified here at school. A lot of times what we found was it was happening away from school, on the weekends, or you know, something that was going on with their family. Holidays came into play, somewhat,” Grimes said.

After suspending virtual learning in October, Lubbock Cooper ISD reports it’s never had more than 1 percent of students at a time who have been diagnosed with Covid-19.

For Roosevelt, the decision to return to in-person wasn’t just a matter of the ability to manage Covid-19 cases, but one of saving grades.

“It was evident early on our kids were not being successful. In fact, at the end of the first six weeks, which was when we scrapped the virtual format, 77 percent of our high school kids were failing at least one class,” Grimes added.

Since getting back in the classroom, that’s dropped to nine percent.

Lubbock Cooper reported less than 40 percent of elementary students were consistently engaged in online learning.

At the secondary level, that dropped to one in ten students.

Superintendent Keith Bryant says engagement has improved since being back in the classroom.

“Students have been engaged in extracurricular activities. They’ve been able to go outside and play with their friends at recess. They’ve been able to do things just to be kids,” Bryant said.

Both superintendents noted mental health and social needs played into their decision-making last fall.

“Well now that we’re back in school, we can feed them at school. We can give them health care at school with our nurses. We can love on those kids and take care of them, and then we can teach them,” Bryant said.

Grimes says one positive from the pandemic is the worth of teachers being verified.

“The implications have been felt here at home. It’s real, but our kids suffering is real. And our teachers love kids and they’re willing to go to the front lines for them. I think that’s been proven through this,” Grimes said.

Both say their schools are continuing to follow CDC guidelines regarding face masks and distancing.

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