Understanding COVID-19 cases among school-aged children and school staff in early 2021.

Fraser Health undertook an analysis of COVID-19 cases among school-aged children and school staff from January 1 to March 7, 2021 to better understand the extent and nature of in-school transmission of the virus.

These data were used, alongside a similar analysis completed by Vancouver Coastal Health in late 2020, as part of the provincial discussion over whether or not to close schools, and to inform prioritization of school staff for vaccination.

Our data demonstrated that during the nine week period of analysis that <1 per cent of the approximately 315,000 staff and students in the Fraser region had contracted COVID-19. Other key highlights include:

  • Of these 2049 confirmed cases, the majority (87 per cent) were acquired outside of school.
  • Of the 2049 confirmed cases, just under 20 per cent were associated with a confirmed school cluster or outbreak.
  • These confirmed clusters, and one outbreak, were distributed among 116 of the nearly 640 K-12 schools in the region.
  • Of the 267 cases (13 per cent of total school cases) believed to have acquired COVID in school, 88 (4.3 per cent of total school cases) led to household/community transmission, and mostly within the household.
  • While this did represent the early days of variant of concern circulation in our region, in-school transmission represents a small fraction of the COVID-19 cases among school staff and school-aged children.
  • Notification letters are provided to the school community when there has been a case at a school during the case’s infectious period.
  • The results of our analysis demonstrate that in-school transmission represents only a fraction of cases associated with schools and, as such, the notification letters issued over the nine week period were not a direct correlation of the degree of in-school transmission.

Fraser Health will be conducting additional analyses of school-associated COVID-19 cases since March 7 to review the impact of factors such as variants and immunization efforts.

COVID-19 and schools data

See Fraser Health’s COVID-19 school cluster and transmission data analysis, January 1 to March 7, 2021