Jakob Peter Armann, Manja Unrath, Carolin Kirsten, Christian Lueck, Alexander Dalpke, Reinhard Berner
School closures are part of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic control measures in many countries, based on the assumption that children play a similar role in transmitting SARS-CoV-2 as they do in transmitting influenza. We therefore performed a SARS-CoV-2 seropraevalence-study in students and teachers to assess their role in the SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
Students grade 8-11 and their teachers in 13 secondary schools in eastern Saxony, Germany, were invited to participate in the SchoolCoviDD19 study. Blood samples were collected between May 25th and June 30th, 2020. Anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG were assed using chemiluminescence immunoassay technology and all samples with a positive or equivocal test result were re-tested with two additional serological tests.
1538 students and 507 teachers participated in this study. The seropraevalence for SARS-CoV-2 was 0.6%. Even in schools with reported Covid-19 cases before the Lockdown of March 13th no clusters could be identified. 23/24 participants with a household history of COVID-91 were seronegative. By using a combination of three different immunoassays we could exclude 16 participants with a positive or equivocal results after initial testing.
Students and teachers do not play a crucial role in driving the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in a low prevalence setting. Transmission in families occurs very infrequently, and the number of unreported cases is low in this age group, making school closures not appear appropriate as a strategy in this low prevalence settings.
This study was supported by a grant from the state of Saxony.