COVID-19 is much easier to spread in schools than elsewhere, Italian scientists say. And its uncontrolled transmission can disrupt classes.
The large-scale study found that children in schools are the main source of transmission of the coronavirus, and the infection only gets worse at home. The authors of the study analyzed transmission patterns associated with 976 cases of infection involving 460 people who tested positive for coronavirus. Observations were conducted in the Italian region of Lombardy in 2021.
All data are taken from routine surveillance and screening of students, school staff and their families in a small municipality of just over 6,000 people. The analysis shows that both younger and older groups were actively involved in the spread of infection, although it is generally accepted that schools are less likely to be infected. Approximately 50% of infections occurred at home, 21% at school, and 29% in other public places.
However, in terms of the transmission chain, the study showed that schools were where the largest clusters of infections occurred among students and had the highest average number of generations in the transmission chain, that is, the spread of the virus between children and adults. Consequently, authorities need to develop a new school safety strategy.