NSW schools are not coronavirus ‘breeding grounds’
A major health report has concluded schools are unlikely to be breeding grounds for COVID-19, after more than 800 teachers and students were exposed to the virus but only two students tested positive.
The investigation by the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance and NSW Health tracked 863 people who came in close contact with nine students and nine staff with COVID-19 between March 5 and April 3, and found schools were not the Petri dishes first feared.
Of the two students who most likely - but not certainly - contracted coronavirus at school, one was a high school student thought to have picked up coronavirus from spending time with two infected classmates and one was a primary school student believed to have contracted coronavirus from their teacher.
Notably, the investigation found no evidence of children infecting teachers.
"SARS-CoV-2 transmission in children in schools appears considerably less than seen for other respiratory viruses, such as influenza," the report said.
"In contrast to influenza, data from both virus and antibody testing to date suggest that children are not the primary drivers of the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in schools or in the community."
The emergence and global spread of COVID-19 coincided with the start of school term one in NSW and so far it has been found at 10 high school and five primary schools across the state.
Schools forced to shut for intensive disinfecting after a confirmed case of coronavirus was known to have entered the campus have so far included Willoughby Girls High School, St Patrick's Marist College at Dundas, Epping Boys High School, St Christopher's Catholic Primary School at Panania, Normanhurst West Public School, Maimuru Public School in the state's southwest, Mandurama Public School in the central west and Wanaaring Public School in the state's northwest.
Across the state, children aged 19 or younger represent 4 per cent of all cases of COVID-19 despite making up 23 per cent of the population.
The government has cited the report as proof that sending students to school for one day a week from May 11 will not unduly endanger students or teachers.
"We know that COVID-19 has created some anxiety for parents, teachers and school staff, however the findings in this report confirm existing health advice that schools remain open and are safe for students to return," education minister Sarah Mitchell said.
"Our managed return to school provides an orderly pathway to return students to the classroom, and allows for additional measures for teachers and parents."
Originally published as NSW schools are not coronavirus 'breeding grounds'