The number of COVID-19 cases in Marina has declined as schools in the district reopened to full-time education last year, according to a new study.
A study published last month in the peer-reviewed national medical journal Cureus tracked attendance at 77 transitional kindergartens across eight-grade Marine schools from September 8, 2020 to January 21.
Researchers found a correlation between an increase in the number of students in the classroom and a lower level of COVID-19 in the community. This was in stark contrast to school breaks such as Halloween and December weekends, according to study co-author Dr. Michaela George, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at the Dominican University of California at San Rafael.
“This shows that when schools follow the advice of local health authorities and work well with local educators, children can stay safe in the classroom,” George said.
Marine Lane Hendrix County spokeswoman said the study results demonstrate the value of a detailed, data-driven school safety program coordinated by various education and health agencies.
“It documents – from an epidemiological perspective – how our local schools’ strict adherence to public health policies helped keep COVID-19 rates low while helping Marina become one of the first counties in the state to hit 100%. -th indicator of reopening. Hendrix said in an email.
The article, published on Nov.22, also noted that close collaboration with the Marin County Board of Education was key to the success of reopening schools – even in the pre-vaccination period, when masks, social distancing, etc. were the only viral safety tools available. hand washing.
“The growing percentage of students returning to full-time school has not translated into an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the community,” the study said. On the contrary, this analysis showed that the number of COVID-19 cases in the district has decreased as the percentage of staged student return increased.
Over a 21-week follow-up period of 17,639 students, 4,938 school staff, and 899,175 student days, the county’s COVID-19 rate fell from 89.9 to 35.89 per 10,000 as more students returned. to full-time study.
“Schools’ strict adherence to public health guidelines and site-specific safety plans against COVID-19 has resulted in a significant 0.84% reduction in incidence among full-time participants,” the study said. “Only nine cases have been identified with suspected transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in school through close contact tracing. The incidence rate of COVID-19 in the district was 2.09%. “
The study highlights the close collaboration between the Marin County Board of Education and the public health team at the County Department of Health and Human Services. This included, for example, a school-specific 30-point protection plan that each school had to complete in order to resume private lessons.
George said the study does not establish a causal relationship between school reopening and lowercase counting, but it does show a correlation.
“For example, during the Thanksgiving school holidays, which spanned November 23, 2020 to November 29, 2020, and the two-week winter school break from December 21, 2020 to January 3, 2021, COVID is district-wide. -19 cases increased due to the lack of full-time participants on the school grounds, ”the study says. “This observed trend may have been disrupted by increased travel, community gatherings and household mixing.”
Hendricks said one of the study co-authors, Shane Puff, was one of the study co-authors along with half a dozen or so members of Marina’s epidemiological and public health groups. Since then, Puff has joined the Sonoma County Virus Response Team, she said.
In addition to Puff and George, the other coauthors were Dr. Matt Willis, Marine Health Officer; Dr. Lisa Santora, Deputy Public Health Specialist; and County staff members Rochelle Ereman, Alana McGrath, Bethany Dominique, Karina Arambula, Jasmine Soriano, and Charis Baz.