Dumfries and Galloway teachers were not at increased risk of severe Covid-19 during 2020/21 academic year

By Stephen Temlett

Teachers were not at increased risk of hospital admission or severe Covid-19 during the last academic year, according to a new study.

Research, led by the University of Glasgow in collaboration with Public Health Scotland, found there was no difference when comparisons were made with other working age adults.

The findings, based on Scottish data from March, 2020, to July, 2021, covered periods when schools were fully open and also when they were fully or partially closed. In the latter period of time covered by the study, the Delta variant was already circulating in the population.

David McAllister, professor of clinical epidemiology and medical informatics at the University of Glasgow and lead author of the study, said: “It is not possible from our study to say why when schools were mostly closed teachers had a lower risk of hospitalisation with Covid-19.

“It could be something particular about teachers themselves, or it could simply be that they had fewer contacts, on average, than other working-age adults at this time.

“Together with the finding that teachers were at lower risk of severe Covid-19 and that people who shared a household with teachers were not at increased risk, this is likely to be broadly reassuring for people involved in face-to-face teaching.”

After adjusting for factors such as age, sex and ethnicity, the results show the risk of hospital admission with the coronavirus was around 50 per cent lower in teachers and their household members than in the general population.

In contrast, during this same period, the risk was almost four times higher in patient facing healthcare workers and almost twice as high in their household members.

But Andrew O’Halloran, regional secretary of teachers’ union the Educational Institute of Scotland, has said that new strains continue to pose a danger to staff and schools must continue to apply safety measures.

Mr O’Halloran said: “The high levels of the virus in Dumfries and Galloway are extremely concerning.

“Most school staff will now have received their vaccinations which offers some degree of reassurance but the majority of young people have not yet received any form of vaccine.

“The continuing emergence of new strains of the virus, against which the vaccines may offer less protection, increases the risk of further outbreaks within our school communities.

“It remains essential, therefore, that schools continue to exercise all due caution in rigorously applying continuing safety mitigations to reduce the risk of Covid outbreaks. Suppression of the virus in schools is predicated on high levels of vigilance and strict adherence to all the mitigations, including randomised CO2 monitoring and social distancing.”

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