News Story

No Record of Student-To-Teacher Coronavirus Transmission

Picking up COVID-19 from students at school? No record that it has happened

Rebecca Martinson, a public school teacher in the state of Washington, wrote a July 18 commentary in The New York Times about not wanting to return to teach due to COVID-19.

“Every day when I walk into work as a public-school teacher, I am prepared to take a bullet to save a child. In the age of school shootings, that’s what the job requires. But asking me to return to the classroom amid a pandemic and expose myself and my family to COVID-19 is like asking me to take that bullet home to my own family. I won’t do it, and you shouldn’t want me to.”

In the last 50 years, the state of Washington has seen 35 incidents where a gun was reported on school property, and many of those didn’t involve an actual shooting. So while it’s possible Martinson could have had to take a bullet for her students, it would have been extremely unlikely. In the same way, it’s also possible for a single individual to overestimate the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a school building.

In Michigan, the Utica Education Association posted a link to a Macomb Daily story, and it highlighted the quotes from its president, Liza Parkinson.

Parkinson, the union president, spoke of the possibility of dying after picking up the virus in the classroom.

“I don’t want anybody to die from going to school or a family member to die from going to school,” Parkinson was quoted in the Macomb Daily.

“Teachers are preparing for a bad outcome,” Parkinson stated in the Facebook post. “They are putting their lives in order with trusts, life insurance, things of that nature.”

Media reports, though, tell a different story about the risk teachers face if they return to school buildings.

The Times of London reported that one of the United Kingdom’s key epidemiologists has said nowhere in the world has it been reported a teacher caught COVID-19 from a student.

The publication wrote, “Mark Woolhouse, a leading epidemiologist and member of the government’s Sage committee, told The Times that it may have been a mistake to close schools in March given the limited role children play in spreading the virus.”

The Denver Post reported July 28 that “much of the science on school safety across the globe indicates that the novel coronavirus, which has taken the lives of nearly 650,000 people worldwide but has largely spared the young, doesn’t do well in a classroom setting. … Research papers published in multiple countries, including Australia, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany, found negligible transmission of COVID-19 in school settings.”

The newspaper continued: “And in a study cited by Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment epidemiologist Dr. Brian Erly last week during a virtual news conference on reopening schools, researchers found virtually no difference in the transmission rate among students and teachers in Finland, which closed its schools during the peak of the pandemic in Europe, compared to Sweden, which kept primary schools open.”

According to the Denver Post, a Chinese study published in June stated that closing schools helped slow the spread of COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported there haven’t been many school-aged deaths in the U.S. due from COVID-19.

From Feb. 1 through July 11, the CDC reported, there were 16 deaths linked to COVID-19 among children age 5-14 in the U.S. It also stated 130,250 people have died from it in this country.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.