Staff-pupil SARS-CoV-2 infection pathways in schools in Wales: a population-level linked data approach.

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Better understanding of the role that children and school staff play in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is essential to guide policy development on controlling infection while minimising disruption to children’s education and well-being.Our national e-cohort (n=464531) study used anonymised linked data for pupils, staff and associated households linked via educational settings in Wales. We estimated the odds of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection for staff and pupils over the period August- December 2020, dependent on measures of recent exposure to known cases linked to their educational settings.The total number of cases in a school was not associated with a subsequent increase in the odds of testing positive (staff OR per case: 0.92, 95% CI 0.85 to 1.00; pupil OR per case: 0.98, 95% CI 0.93 to 1.02). Among pupils, the number of recent cases within the same year group was significantly associated with subsequent increased odds of testing positive (OR per case: 1.12, 95% CI 1.08 to 1.15). These effects were adjusted for a range of demographic covariates, and in particular any known cases within the same household, which had the strongest association with testing positive (staff OR: 39.86, 95% CI 35.01 to 45.38; pupil OR: 9.39, 95% CI 8.94 to 9.88).In a national school cohort, the odds of staff testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection were not significantly increased in the 14-day period after case detection in the school. However, pupils were found to be at increased odds, following cases appearing within their own year group, where most of their contacts occur. Strong mitigation measures over the whole of the study period may have reduced wider spread within the school environment.

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Authors: Daniel A Thompson, Hoda Abbasizanjani, Richard Fry, Emily Marchant, Lucy Griffiths, Ashley Akbari, Joe Hollinghurst, Laura North, Jane Lyons, Fatemeh Torabi, Gareth Davies, Mike B Gravenor, Ronan A Lyons