Findings from a Scottish study show that teachers were not at an increased risk of being admitted to hospital with COVID-19 compared to other working age adults between March 2020 and July 2021.
The study, jointly led by Public Health Scotland and the University of Glasgow, was published in the BMJ today and looked at the risk of COVID-19 related hospital admission in teachers and compared it with that in the general population. The research focused on hospital admissions after testing positive with COVID-19 rather than testing positive only.
The risk during times of school closure and opening was also explored. It varied across the school terms, with a pattern of being lower than the general population when schools were mostly closed, and similar to that of the general population when schools were open.
When schools were largely closed in spring and summer 2020, teachers were 50% less likely than the general population to be admitted to hospital. However, during the autumn 2020 term, when schools re-opened, teachers’ risk of admission was higher, although still not clearly different to that of the general population.
The study also found there to be good levels of COVID-19 vaccine uptake among teachers. This likely contributed to reducing the risk of hospitalisation in the summer 2021 term as the risk during this time also did not show a clear difference to that of the general population.
First author of the study and Consultant in Public Health at Public Health Scotland, Dr Lynda Fenton said:
"Education is central to allow all children and young people to realise their potential, and teachers are a critical part of this. By carrying out this study, we have obtained a better understanding of the risks for teachers since the start of the pandemic. These findings contribute to the knowledge needed when making decisions about how to deliver education in these challenging times.
"While we were only able to look at the risk for teachers, it’s also important to consider other education staff when informing decision-making. That’s why Public Health Scotland are currently looking into repeating this research for Early Learning and Childcare staff and would welcome collaborations with other staff groups.”
Senior author of the study, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology and Medical Informatics and Honorary Consultant in Public Health Medicine David McAllister, University of Glasgow and Public Health Scotland said:
"Making decisions on the approach to education during the COVID-19 pandemic requires gathering information on the risks and benefits for those working in and attending schools. This research aimed to contribute to this evidence and was undertaken as part of a wider programme of work in Public Health Scotland on COVID-19 and education.
We hope this work provides a degree of reassurance for people working in education, since it shows that teachers were not at higher risk of hospitalisation with COVID-19 than other working-age adults."