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Study: Covid-19 no more a menace to teachers than other professions

Study: Covid-19 no more a menace to teachers than other professions
Despite high levels of concern coming from their unions and the media, schoolteachers face no greater risk than other adults of being hospitalized due to Covid-19, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal.

Compared to adults employed in different professions, Scottish teachers were as likely to be hospitalized with Covid-19 as their peers, the study, published on Thursday, found. Researchers compared educators and their household members to healthcare workers and the general working-age population.

Teachers were actually less likely to suffer from severe Covid-19 than other adults of working age when Scottish schools were mostly closed, and so were the members of their households. However, even when schools were open, teachers were found to have an equivalent Covid-19 risk to the rest of the working-age demographic.

The researchers cautioned against jumping to conclusions with their data, noting that teachers might be “generally healthier or more careful about Covid-19 related behaviors than other occupational groups” and that most of the study participants were middle-aged (an average age of 42) and lacking chronic health conditions. High uptake of vaccines was also held up as a possible mitigating factor, though the jabs do not necessarily prevent transmission of the virus.

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However, study head and University of Glasgow professor David McAllister said the results could be “broadly reassuring for people involved in face-to-face teaching.

Arguments surrounding the risk of in-person schooling have raged since the worldwide spread of the novel coronavirus forced schools to close their doors, even as scientists gradually discovered children were less likely to experience severe infection or even test positive for the virus than their parents or other older populations.

That hasn’t stopped the hysteria over reopening schools, however. Scotland, for example, has blamed a recent rise in cases on the return to the real-life classroom two weeks ago, and teachers’ unions are warning that relaxing strict virus control measures will lead to massive school-borne outbreaks. Such controversial measures include universal masking, enforced social distancing (no playing on the playground), ‘hybrid’ instruction in which children learn at home for part of the week, or merely continued home instruction. Mask mandates in particular have been the source of extreme acrimony, and the approval of vaccinations for children in some countries has only added to the uproar.

The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation on Friday opted to expand Covid-19 vaccination to children between the ages of 12 and 15, but only those with underlying health conditions instead of vaccinating all young teens. JCVI insisted the benefits of vaccinating healthy kids that age are outweighed by the risks – which include a rare but life-threatening condition called myocarditis (heart inflammation).

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The decision could be seen as something of a victory for opponents of mandatory vaccination, as protesters had swarmed the JCVI’s headquarters earlier on Friday with the goal of preventing it from green-lighting the experimental vaccines for all 12- to 15-year-olds.

Scotland has infamously promoted allowing children as young as four to declare their own gender identity without telling their parents; however, it’s not clear if this parent-teacher confidentiality will extend to vaccination, as it has in some parts of the US.

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