The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently released a report regarding their study of nine coronavirus transmission clusters in Marietta, Atlanta. According to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the report clearly shows that teachers play a significant role in the spread of the virus during lunches, physical meetings, leading to subsequent spreads in classrooms.
Through the report, it became apparent that more teachers had spread the coronavirus during the month of December and January. One such transmission cluster had 16 students and teachers, to which the spread of infection reached up to the relatives of the students.
What the CDC Marietta Study Revealed
While only one of the nine infection clusters was started by a student, four have already been established as having started by an infected teacher. The remaining four, which although confirmed as having a teacher as the first case of the cluster, the identity of the teachers concerned are yet ot be verified. It was observed in two clusters that transmissions between teachers occurred during lunches or physical meetings, later led to the spread of the infection to the students.
The results of the CDC’s Marietta study are largely similar to the findings of studies conducted in the UK, which also showed that the most common type of transmission was through teacher-to-teacher interactions.Furthermore, a German study even discovered that transmissions in schools are tripled when the first recorded case is an educator. As a result of the new CDC findings , some schools in the US have decided to continue holding classrooms online in order to avoid the such trend of transmissions.
The Marietta school district in Georgia has been holding face-to-face classes since fall of 2020, which according to Superintendent Grant Rivera has been seeing 90% of students in elementary level attending school. Not only were the classrooms crowded, the clusters that were studied also didn’t follow proper social distancing protocols. The students are only 3 meters apart albeit separated by plastic dividers.
CDC repeatedly advised schools to follow the basic safety measures and strategies to lessen the spread of coronavirus. The measure now includes fewer in-person teacher meetings, increased social distancing, and strict enforcement of wearing masks correctly at all times. .
Actions Taken by Marietta School District to Lessen the Spread of the Virus
Marietta Superintendent Rivera made sure that any interaction between teachers are virtual, and that chairs are also removed in the workrooms of the educators. Furthermore, teachers are encouraged to eat outside in open areas, while students are also encouraged to eat in larger spaces like the gym, auditorium, cafeteria or outdoors, particularly schools that have crowded classrooms.
According to Mr. Rivera, the district is said to be continuing with large-scale COVID-19 testing once the study is done. Initial reports suggest prioritizing the vaccination of educators in order to keep schools operating with lesser possibilities of transmission in order to protect everyone. However, CDC did not agree with the suggestion.