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1.
JMIR Res Protoc ; 2022 Apr 21.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1875278

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: One of the most debated questions in the COVID-19 pandemic has been the role of schools in SARS-CoV-2 transmission. The COVID-19 Schools Infection Survey (SIS) aims to provide much-needed evidence addressing this. OBJECTIVE: This paper presents the study protocol and participation profile for the SIS study, aimed at assessing the role of schools in SARS-CoV-2 infection and transmission within school settings, and investigating how transmission within and from schools could be mitigated through implementation of school COVID-19 control measures. METHODS: SIS was a multisite, prospective, observational cohort study conducted in a stratified random sample of primary and secondary schools in selected local authorities in England. Six bio-behavioural surveys were planned among participating students and staff during the 2020/21 academic year, between November 2020 and July 2021. Key measurements were SARS-CoV-2 virus prevalence, assessed by nasal swab polymerase chain reaction; anti-SARS-CoV-2 (nucleocapsid protein) antibody prevalence and conversion, assessed in finger-prick-blood for staff and oral-fluid for students; student and staff school attendance rates; feasibility and acceptability of school-level implementation of SARS-CoV-2 control measures; and investigation of selected school outbreaks. The study received approvals from the UK Health Security Agency Research Support and Governance Office (NR0237) and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine Ethics Review Committee (ref:22657). RESULTS: Data collection and laboratory analyses were completed by September 2021. A total of 22,585 individuals: 1,891 staff and 4,654 students from 59 primary schools and 5,852 staff and 10,188 students from 97 secondary schools participated in at least one survey. On average, across survey rounds, staff and student participation rates were 45.2% and 16.4% respectively in primary schools and 30.0% and 15.2% in secondary schools. While primary student participation increased over time, and secondary student participation remained reasonably consistent, staff participation declined across rounds, especially for secondary school staff (41.7% in Round 1 and 22.1% in Round 6). While staff participation overall was generally reflective of the eligible staff population, student participation was higher in schools with low absenteeism, a lower proportion of students eligible for free school meals and from schools in the least deprived locations (in primary schools 9.6% participants were from schools in the least deprived quintile compared with 5.7% of eligible students). CONCLUSIONS: We outline the study design, methods and participation, and reflect on the strengths of the SIS study as well as the practical challenges encountered, and the strategies implemented to address these challenges. The SIS study, by measuring current and incident infection over time, alongside the implementation of control measures in schools, across a range of settings in England, aims to inform national guidance and public health policy for educational settings.

2.
PLoS One ; 17(2): e0262515, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1690740

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Following the full re-opening of schools in England and emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 Alpha variant, we investigated the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection in students and staff who were contacts of a confirmed case in a school bubble (school groupings with limited interactions), along with their household members. METHODS: Primary and secondary school bubbles were recruited into sKIDsBUBBLE after being sent home to self-isolate following a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the bubble. Bubble participants and their household members were sent home-testing kits comprising nasal swabs for RT-PCR testing and whole genome sequencing, and oral fluid swabs for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. RESULTS: During November-December 2020, 14 bubbles were recruited from 7 schools, including 269 bubble contacts (248 students, 21 staff) and 823 household contacts (524 adults, 299 children). The secondary attack rate was 10.0% (6/60) in primary and 3.9% (4/102) in secondary school students, compared to 6.3% (1/16) and 0% (0/1) among staff, respectively. The incidence rate for household contacts of primary school students was 6.6% (12/183) and 3.7% (1/27) for household contacts of primary school staff. In secondary schools, this was 3.5% (11/317) and 0% (0/1), respectively. Household contacts were more likely to test positive if their bubble contact tested positive although there were new infections among household contacts of uninfected bubble contacts. INTERPRETATION: Compared to other institutional settings, the overall risk of secondary infection in school bubbles and their household contacts was low. Our findings are important for developing evidence-based infection prevention guidelines for educational settings.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/transmission , Adolescent , Adult , Antibodies, Viral/analysis , COVID-19/virology , Child , Contact Tracing , England/epidemiology , Female , Humans , Incidence , Male , Nasopharynx/virology , Prospective Studies , RNA, Viral/analysis , RNA, Viral/metabolism , Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Schools/statistics & numerical data , Students/statistics & numerical data
4.
JMIR Form Res ; 5(10): e30449, 2021 Oct 29.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1448662

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: In April 2020, as cases of the novel COVID-19 spread across the globe, MTV Staying Alive Foundation created the educational entertainment miniseries MTV Shuga: Alone Together. In 70 short episodes released daily on YouTube, Alone Together aimed to disseminate timely and accurate information to increase young people's knowledge, motivation, and actions to prevent COVID-19. OBJECTIVE: We sought to identify Alone Together viewer's perspectives on the global COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdowns by examining the words, conversations, experiences, and emotions expressed on social media in response to the Alone Together episodes. We also assessed how viewers used the series and its online community as a source of support during the global pandemic. METHODS: A total of 3982 comments and 70 live chat conversations were extracted from YouTube between April and October 2020 and analyzed through a data-led inductive thematic approach. Aggregated demographic and geographical data were collected using YouTube Analytics. RESULTS: The miniseries had a global reach across 5 continents, with a total of 7.7 million views across MTV Shuga platforms. The series had over 1 million views over 70 episodes on YouTube and an average of 5683 unique viewers per episode on YouTube. The dominant audience was adults under the age of 35 years and women. Across diverse countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, the United States, and the UK, viewers believed that COVID-19 was serious and expressed that it was socially responsible to follow public health measures. Storylines of the series about the impact of self-isolation on mental health, exposure to violence in lockdowns, and restricted employment opportunities due to the pandemic resonated with young viewers. Tuning in to the miniseries provided viewers with reliable information, entertainment, and an online community during an isolating, confusing, and worrying time. CONCLUSIONS: During the first wave of COVID-19, viewers from at least 53 countries connected on social media via the MTV miniseries. The analysis showed how digitally connected people under the age of 35 years, predominantly women, felt compelled to follow COVID-19 safety measures despite the pandemic's impact on their social, educational, and financial needs. Viewers used social media to reach out to fellow viewers for advice, solace, support, and resources. Organizations, governments, and individuals have been forced to innovate during the pandemic to ensure people can access services safely and remotely. This analysis showed that women under 35 years of age were especially receptive to receiving support from online communities and media services. Peer influence and support online can be a powerful public health tool as people have a great capacity to influence each other and shape norms around public health. However, online services are not accessible to everyone, and COVID-19 has increased disparities between digitally connected and unconnected younger adults.

6.
Health Educ Res ; 36(3): 272-285, 2021 07 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1189451

ABSTRACT

We examined the feasibility of implementing preventive measures to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission across 105 English primary schools in summer 2020 via a survey and interviews with headteachers. High rates of implementation of most recommended measures were noted with the exception of requiring 2 m distance for students, fitting hand sanitizers in classrooms and introducing one-way systems in school corridors. Measures such as regular handwashing and stopping assemblies were considered easy to implement. Majorly challenging measures included distancing between individuals (for students: 51%, N = 99; for staff: 34%; N = 98; for parents: 26%, N = 100), spacing out desks (34%, N = 99), keeping same staff assigned to each student group (33%, N = 97) and staggering break times (25%, N = 99). Rapid implementation was facilitated by staff commitment and communication among stakeholders, but hampered by limitations with guidance received, physical environments, resources, parental adherence and balancing preventive measures with learning. Difficulties with distancing for younger children suggest that smaller bubbles with fewer distancing requirements within these may be a policy option. Schools require further financial, human resource and other support for effective implementation of preventive measures.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , Child , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Schools , Students , Surveys and Questionnaires
7.
Glob Public Health ; 15(12): 1917-1923, 2020 Dec.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-795165

ABSTRACT

COVID-19 'lockdown' policies may have unintended consequences for individuals, households and country economies. Hence lockdown may be unsustainable despite the risk of a resurgence of new COVID-19 infections. The repeal and alteration of lockdown policies mark a symbolic transfer of responsibility for epidemic control from state to individual. This has the potential to catalyse fear, blame and judgement within and between populations. We draw on experience from the HIV pandemic to show that this will worsen during later phases of the pandemic if COVID-19 stigma increases, as we fear it could. We suggest policy recommendations for 'lockdown lifting' to limit COVID-19 stigma. We suggest three policy priorities to minimise potential increases in COVID-19 stigma: limit fear by strengthening risk communication, engage communities to reduce the emergence of blaming, and emphasise social justice to reduce judgement. 'Lockdown' policies cannot continue uninterrupted. However, lifting lockdown without unintended consequences may prove harder than establishing it. This period has the potential to see the emergence of fear, blame and judgement, intersecting with existing inequalities, as governments seek to share responsibility for preventing further Sars-Cov-2 transmission. As we have learned from HIV, it is critical that a wave of COVID-19 stigma is prevented from flourishing.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Health Policy , Pandemics/prevention & control , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Social Control, Formal/methods , Social Stigma , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , Humans , Quarantine , SARS-CoV-2 , Social Isolation
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