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Attending major college places youngsters and workers at no better threat of contracting coronavirus than staying at residence, a research of 131 faculties suggests.

Assessments to seek out out who had already had the virus discovered related ranges of antibodies in pupils and lecturers.

However the research, of 12,000 adults and youngsters in England, was carried out in June and early July, when there have been only a few instances round.

Specialists say extra research are wanted, when all youngsters are attending college.

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Media captionBBC well being correspondent Laura Foster explains what faculties are doing to maintain pupils protected

For the research, pupils and workers had been examined over the last six weeks of the summer season time period when Reception, Yr 1 and Yr 6 youngsters may return to highschool.

Since then, thousands and thousands of youngsters throughout the UK have returned to the classroom, with classes resuming in England and Wales up to now few days. Faculties in Scotland and Northern Eire reopened final month.

Faculties now look very completely different to what college students had been as soon as used to, with pupils being instructed to remain of their “bubble” teams, comply with one-way methods and social distance when essential. Staggered begin occasions have additionally been launched, and hand-washing stations and screens put in.

Bubbles differ extensively between faculties. Some major faculties deal with every class as a separate bubble, whereas secondary faculties usually have bubbles composed of complete 12 months teams – typically of as much as 300 youngsters.

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Kids with a brand new classroom lay-out at a college in Southwark, south London

Scientists from Public Well being England, who led the study, discovered simply three folks (one little one and two workers) examined optimistic for the virus – 0.02% of these swabbed.

There was no proof that any of those three folks handed the virus on to others they lived with or labored with. This displays previous research by PHE showing low numbers of cases and outbreaks in schools.

Antibody ranges

A separate pattern of two,100 workers and youngsters, who had been examined for antibodies, discovered 10.6% of pupils and 12.7% of workers had beforehand had coronavirus.

This might recommend that youngsters are as doubtless as adults to be contaminated, relatively than being much less vulnerable to the illness.

However as a result of so few optimistic instances in youngsters are detected, it confirms earlier analysis that they’re more likely to expertise gentle signs, or none in any respect.

The research discovered youngsters and workers who attended college extra incessantly had been no extra more likely to check optimistic for antibodies than those that didn’t attend college, or went much less usually.

This might point out that an infection ranges in faculties are merely reflecting virus ranges within the communities the place folks reside.

Nonetheless, some teams had been extra more likely to have antibodies – they had been non-white, lived in the identical home as a healthcare employee and had skilled signs.

Secondary faculties weren’t included within the research, so no conclusions could be drawn about older youngsters.

‘Reassuring’

Dr Shamez Ladhani, marketing consultant epidemiologist, from Public Well being England stated: “That is the most important research of its sort within the nation and suggests attending preschool and first college brings no further threat to both workers or college students.

“Though these outcomes are preliminary, they need to be very reassuring to folks who could also be anxious about their youngsters returning to highschool.”

Dr Liz Whittaker, medical lecturer and marketing consultant paediatrician, from Imperial School London, stated it was a “good high quality research” however “restricted by timing” as there was very low transmission of coronavirus throughout the interval studied.

“It’s important that research equivalent to these proceed over the following few months, and importantly, are additionally carried out in secondary college and school settings,” she added.

Prof Ravindra Gupta, professor of medical microbiology on the College of Cambridge, cautioned that faculties would now be dealing with two to 6 occasions extra youngsters, which may alter the outcomes.

“There’s much less capability to socially distance than faculties had been in a position to in June. We should not be complacent and falsely reassured. We should guarantee enough monitoring and testing methods to select up infections in faculties earlier than they unfold,” he stated.

Concerning the discovering that youngsters had been usually asymptomatic, Prof Gupta stated that meant “youngsters should still proceed to attend college if we don’t recurrently check for the virus in faculties”.



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