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Little evidence of Covid-19 transmission in physical schooling in the US

GOVERNMENT should take its cue from the findings of a United States study that showed “little evidence” that having physical schooling increased community transmission of the coronavirus.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday said Department of Education (DepEd) and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases should study the January 2021 journal article published by experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even as the country prepares the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination program.

The CDC is a national public health institute under the US Department of Health.

The study claimed that while schools in the US opened for in-person instruction, there was little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission.

The CDC report further stated that during the fall of 2020, 11 school districts in North Carolina with 90,000 students and staff opened for in-person classes for nine weeks.

During that time, Gatchalian quoted CDC that there were only 32 infections acquired in schools compared to 773 community infections, while no cases of student-to-staff transmission were recorded.

These findings were generated during a 13-week period in the fall of 2020, according to Gatchalian.

“If we will allow children to go outside their homes, it’s better that we allow them to go to school,” Gatchalian, chair of the Senate basic education committee, said in a statement.

“It would help them a lot if their teachers would personally guide them in their studies and if they will be able to interact with their fellow students,” he added.

With these recommendations by these same experts, the senator said that the resumption of face-to-face classes is possible if the risk of community transmission is reduced and health protocols are observed including hand washing, frequent use of alcohol, wearing face masks, and practicing social distancing.

Gatchalian has long been advocating for the return of schoolchildren to their campuses, especially in areas with low incidence of COVID-19. Allowing safe face-toface classes will help address the challenges hounding distance learning, which include unstable internet connectivity and the lack of physical interaction with teachers and fellow students.

He also reiterated calls to prioritize teachers in the Covid-19 inoculation program since they are at the forefront of school preparations.

President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, recently allowed the resumption of limited face-to-face classes for medical and allied health programs in institutions located at general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ areas.