Teachers are not at greater risk of hospitalisation as a result of COVID-19 infection than the rest of the population, a newly published study in the UK suggests.
“Compared with adults of working age who are otherwise similar, teachers and their household members were not found to be at increased risk of hospital admission with COVID-19 and were found to be at lower risk of severe COVID-19,” concluded the study that was published in the medical journal BMJ.
Researchers from Public Health Scotland and the University of Glasgow examined data on the pandemic in Scotland from March 2020 to June 2021, and found no evidence that the risk of hospitalisation with COVID-19 was higher among teachers than among other adults of working age in the general population.
David McAllister, professor of clinical epidemiology and medical informatics at the University of Glasgow and an author of the study, said that the results are “likely to be broadly reassuring for people involved in face-to-face teaching.”
The researchers found that, when Scottish schools were largely closed, teachers showed a lower risk of being admitted to hospital with COVID-19 than other adults of working age.
When schools were fully open, the risk in teachers was similar to that in the rest of the working-age population, according to the study.
But the researchers suggested it could be because teachers are generally healthier or more careful about COVID-19 related behaviours than other occupational groups.
Most of the teachers in the study were women (average age 42) with few underlying health conditions.
The researchers also thought vaccination might also have contributed to their protection during a period when the delta variant was common.
The study said the findings were robust to adjustment for age, sex, socioeconomic deprivation, geography, race/ethnicity, household composition, and the number of comorbidities.
Public Health Scotland is currently looking into repeating this research for Early Learning and Childcare staff.
Schools in Scotland returned two weeks ago and the reopening is believed to have contributed to a rise in cases.
Schools in Northern Ireland have also reopened, and pupils across England and Wales are beginning to return to the classroom this week after the summer holidays.
Education unions in the UK have warned that a relaxation of COVID-19 safety measures could lead to rising infections in schools.
But UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said on Thursday that he will “move heaven and earth” to avoid shutting schools again.
PA contributed to this report.