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Study: Only 7 of nearly 5,000 Wood Co. students caught COVID-19 in school

Early studies show low COVID cases during a semester of in-person learning.
Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 8:10 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 22, 2021 at 10:37 AM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A group of specialists in Wood County, Wisconsin, studied 17 schools, tracking mask compliance and COVID-19 cases attributed to schools and found some surprising results.

From the end of August through the end of November, researchers found only seven COVID-19 cases, all affecting students, were linked to the schools and a group of students and staff that topped 5,000 people.

In a study that included 4,876 students and 654 staff members, conducted between the end of Aug. 31 and Nov. 29, only seven of the students who tested positive for COVID-19 had their infection traced back to the school. None of the staff members’ cases were linked to schools.

In fact, the 191 total number of cases found among the 5,530 students and staff combined meant the rate of transmission for those in the study was lower than the surrounding community (3,453 versus 5,466 per 100,000).

Teachers also reported over 92% of the students K-12 diligently wore masks all semester.

Dr. Amy Falk, one of the specialists apart of the study published by the CDC, said that despite the rise and fall of cases in communities around the schools, COVID-19 numbers in the schools stayed consistently low.

“I think it’s very clear that schools are not the issue because no matter what the community is doing, schools are able to do things like hand washing, mask-wearing, some degree of distancing,” said Dr. Falk. “I think the CDC’s guidance on those types of things is going to change in time; I think those of us that have been in-person and working towards that can help change the narrative there.”

Dr. Falk also noted that the study in Wood County came to the same conclusion as Duke University’s studies across North Carolina. She believes that early studies show the contained environment of a school makes safe in-person learning accomplishable.

“As long as you talk with your kids about the importance of masking, hand washing, a lot of these things are not difficult to do,” said Dr. Falk. “Kids will do the right thing.”

Dr. Falk says that while returning to in-person learning is a personal decision that holds different variables from family to family, studies from last semester show a school’s ability to consistently keep students and staff as safe as possible.

Madison Metropolitan School District has announced kindergartners will head back to the classroom on March 9, with first and second-graders joining them the next week and 4K students the week after that.

  • Kindergarten (March 9th);
  • Grades 1-2 (March 16th);
  • 4K (March 23rd)

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