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CDC: Less than 1% of Florida students got COVID at school

Researchers say the findings add to a growing list of evidence suggesting coronavirus transmission isn't more frequent in schools than outside them.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The past summer was one of reflection for faculty and staff in schools across Florida. 

After the previous school year was nearly thrown off track by the coronavirus pandemic, students and teachers were thrust into and forced to adjust to a new world of virtual learning. And, despite educators across the region pleading to stay online until the pandemic was more under control, the state decided to have teachers and many students return to classrooms for in-person learning by the start of the new school year.

Fears of children and staff unknowingly contracting and spreading the virus on a daily basis hung over the heads of many who returned for classes. 

Now, a recent study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows how Florida schools fared during their first semester back in classrooms.

The study found that less than one percent of Florida students contracted the coronavirus during the state's initial reopening of schools.

Between August 10 and December 21, 2020, 25,094 school-related COVID cases were reported among students. When compared to the 2,809,553 registered students in Florida, researchers found only .89 percent of COVID cases occurred in schools. 

A deeper dive into the study reveals that the median age for positive cases among students was 13 years. A total of 101 hospitalizations were recorded, but no deaths were reported.

When looking at the adults in the room, 9,630 COVID cases were reported among school staff members, with 219 hospitalizations and 13 deaths being recorded - nine of which had underlying health conditions, researchers say.

The CDC study also discovered 695 school-based outbreaks in 62 of Florida's 67 school districts. The outbreaks involved 4,370 total cases, which resulted in a statewide average of 6.3 COVID cases per school outbreak.

Researchers say that the findings added to the "growing body of evidence suggesting that COVID-19 transmission does not appear to be demonstrably more frequent in schools than in noneducational settings."

The study adds that transmission in school was no higher than transmission outside school among school-aged children. They say the same findings were seen in five other states and six other countries. 

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