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No evidence of secondary transmission of COVID-19 from children attending school in Ireland, 2020

Our take —

A total of six school-related cases (three pediatric, three adult) were reported to and identified through the Computerized Infectious Disease Reporting System in Ireland prior to school closure on March 12, 2020. All but one of these cases had symptoms, and no onward transmission to children from these cases was identified. Results should be interpreted with caution as the number of cases included in this analysis is limited by the closure of schools soon after cases were introduced in Ireland, and no testing was performed on asymptomatic contacts.

Study design

Case Series

Study population and setting

SARS-CoV-2 notifications to public health departments in the Republic of Ireland were screened for school-related COVID-19 cases and their contacts prior to school closure on 12th March. Eligible cases and contacts included those less than 18 years old and adults who had been present at school settings. Contact-tracing records were reviewed for potential cases of secondary transmission.

Summary of Main Findings

Three pediatric cases (10-15 years old) and three adult cases (>18 years old) were identified; none of which were infected in the school setting. All cases identified had symptoms, except for one pediatric case who was identified through investigation of a household cluster. A total of 1155 school-related contacts of these six cases were identified. No onward transmission to children from these cases was identified in a variety of settings; the only onward transmission detected was between the adult cases and other adults in a work environment.

Study Strengths

This study used surveillance and contact tracing data to identify potential onward transmission in the school-setting.


To be identified as a case in this study, the individual needed to have had symptoms or been part of a known cluster and identified through the computerized infectious disease reporting system; less can be said about asymptomatic cases that may have been tied to the initial 6 cases or transmission from asymptomatic carriers. Additionally, only symptomatic contacts were tested. There were only six total cases identified, meaning that any inference about onward transmission should be interpreted with caution.

Value added

This is one of the first studies of transmission in a school setting.

This review was posted on: 25 June 2020