Special measures put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections in schools have proven to be effective, new data suggests.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS), London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), and Public Health England (PHE) have released the latest round of results from a jointly lead study designed to better understand the spread of the coronavirus in schools in England.
The study investigates the prevalence of current COVID-19 infection and presence of antibodies to COVID-19 among pupils and staff in sampled primary and secondary schools in England, measured at half-termly intervals during the school year.
In addition, it aims to examine attendance of pupils and staff, school implementation measures and undertake detailed outbreak investigations in some schools.
In June 2021, 0.27% of primary school pupils, 0.42% of secondary school pupils and 0.27% of secondary school staff in school on the day of testing, tested positive for current infection for COVID-19.
The prevalence of infection among pupils sampled in school was consistently lower than prevalence of infection among children in the wider community across all time periods, the ONS reported.
‘Although direct causation is unknown, these findings support the hypothesis that over the school year “school gate” measures have reduced the risk of infection in school,’ the ONS concluded.
‘Furthermore, the rapid asymptomatic testing programme may have enhanced any impact by keeping a higher proportion of infected pupils out of school in the summer term.’
Fiona Dawe, deputy director, Schools Infection Survey, said: ‘It’s really encouraging that our results today show that infection rates in the Summer term 2021 were lower than in the Autumn term 2020.
‘As we have now completed the final round of testing, I would like to say thank you to all our incredible participants for taking part in the study throughout the school year, especially during such uncertain times. This study wouldn’t have been possible without them.’