Masks, other precautions help slow COVID-19 in schools: study

Coronavirus
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Students line up to have their temperature checked before entering P.S. 179 elementary school in the Kensington neighborhood of Brooklyn on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020.

NEW YORK — Evidence continues to mount that it’s generally safe to have in-person schooling if mask wearing and other precautions are mandated, health officials say.

The latest study looks at schools in rural Wisconsin and found cases linked to in-school transmission were very low even while infections were common in the same communities.

“Data has really accumulated over the last few months that with good prevention efforts … we can keep transmission in schools quite low,” said Margaret Honein, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Wisconsin study was published online Tuesday by a CDC journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. It focused on 17 schools in Wood County in central Wisconsin and found cases were diagnosed at rate 37% lower than reported in the county overall.

In the Journal of the American Medical Association, Honein and other CDC scientists say it’s re-assuring that the kind of spread seen in nursing homes and other places hasn’t been noted in schools with prevention measures.

However, they say some extracurricular school-related activities, such as sports, have triggered coronavirus spread in some places.

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