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A new study on Cobb and Douglas County schools from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could be the catalyst school teachers need to be moved up the list of those getting vaccinated.

According to the study, listed in this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), an investigation into 24 in-person school days in the two districts found COVID-19 incidence increased almost 300 percent from 152 to 577 cases. After analyzing seating charges, classroom layouts, physical distancing and other areas, the CDC researchers found nine clusters of COVID-19 that involved 13 educators and 32 students at six of the eight elementary schools they were researching.

In the clusters, the CDC said the median cluster size was six persons. In the schools, the index patient was an educator in four of the clusters; a student was the index patient in one cluster; and in the other four, the index patient could not be determined. The investigators also found several mitigation challenges faced by both the educators and the students.

The CDC said plastic dividers were placed on desks between students, but the students had to sit less than three feet apart. The researchers said this was because physical distancing of at least six feet wasn't possible due to the number of students and the classroom layouts.

Overall, the CDC's report on Cobb and Douglas County Schools found "educators can play an important role in in-school transmission and that in-school transmission can occur when physical distancing and mask compliance are not optimal." As a result, the CDC said this about teacher's and vaccinations:

Although not a requirement for reopening schools, adding COVID-19 vaccination for educators as an additional mitigation measure, when available, might serve several important functions, including protecting educators at risk for severe COVID-19–associated illness, potentially reducing in-school SARS-CoV-2 transmission, and minimizing interruptions to in-person learning, all of which have important implications for educational equity and community health

Teachers in Georgia under 65 are not currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. It's prompted some teachers to travel across state lines to Alabama and other states to seek out vaccine shots, while also prompting some teachers to take drastic measures to stay safe.

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