BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Last year's return to full-occupancy in-person learning did not lead to COVID-19 transmission in the classroom with mandated vaccines and masking, according to a new Boston University study.
Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine studied the COVID-19 cases at BU during the fall semester of 2021, before the omicron variant became dominant in the United States. The study found none of the positive cases contracted the virus from students or faculty in the classroom.
Out of 140,000 class meetings, there were 850 confirmed cases found from weekly testing of faculty and students on campus. After examining the data, researchers found there were nine instances of potential in-class transmission with identical lineages confirmed by COVID-19 genome sequencing. The study determined that none of the potential in-classroom transmissions were related, showing there was no correlation between in-person learning causing more COVID-19 cases when masks and vaccines requirements were in place.
“Our reasoning was that if there was in-class transmission, then each person in that potential transmission event would have the same genome,” corresponding author John Connor, PhD, and associate professor of microbiology at BUSM said in the report. “If there was not in-class transmission then the two people would have genomes that are genetically different. It turned out that none of the nine potential in-class transmission events was real.”
The findings could provide parents will some ease going into the fall school year as majority of schools are going back to full-occupancy in-person learning. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education states that all public schools are required to be in-person, full-time, and five days a week.
"[My daughter] did learn from home for a full year and then it went hybrid, then it went in person and she did the best when she was in class," a mom named Donna told WBZ's Shari Small.
Online learning was a challenge for some students who preferred the in-person learning style. According to a poll from Pew Research Center, 65 percent of students preferred in-person instruction, while 18 percent preferred a hybrid model. Only 9 percent of students surveyed said they would rather to learn remotely.
"It's reassuring to hear, I think in-person learning is more effective," said Garrett, a recent college graduate when asked about his thoughts on the study.
WBZ's Shari Small (@ShariSmallNews) reports: