Many School Employees at Increased Risk for Severe COVID-19

MONDAY, Sept. 21, 2020 — Nearly half of all school employees meet the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definition for increased or potentially increased risk for severe COVID-19, according to a study published online Sept. 17 in Health Affairs.

Thomas M. Seldon, Ph.D., from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in Rockville, Maryland, and colleagues used prepandemic household data to examine how often persons at risk for severe COVID-19 were connected to schools. Connections included being school employees or living in the same household as school employees or school-aged children.

The researchers found that of all school employees, 42.0 to 51.4 percent met the CDC definition for having or potentially having an increased risk for severe COVID-19, respectively. Between 33.9 and 44.2 million of all adults with CDC risk factors for severe COVID-19 had direct or within-household connections to schools.

“For many school districts, decisions over whether and how to reopen will likely be revisited throughout the school year,” the authors write. “Against this backdrop, evidence regarding the health risks of adults with connections to schools is one piece of the puzzle.”

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