Was the risk of death among the population of teachers and other school workers in England and Wales due to COVID-19 and all causes higher than other occupations during the pandemic in 2020? An ecological study using routinely collected data on deaths from the Office for National Statistics

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES: To estimate occupation risk from COVID-19 among teachers and others working in schools using publicly available data on mortality in England and Wales.

DESIGN: Analysis of national death registration data from the Office for National Statistics.

SETTING: England and Wales, 8 March-28 December 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

PARTICIPANTS: The total working age population in England and Wales plus those still working aged over 65 years.

PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOMES: Death with COVID-19 as a primary outcome and death from all causes as a secondary outcome.

RESULTS: Across occupational groups, there was a strong correlation between COVID-19 mortality and both non-COVID-19 and all-cause mortality. The absolute mortality rates for deaths with COVID-19 were low among those working in schools (from 10 per 100 000 in female primary school teachers to 39 per 100 000 male secondary school teachers) relative to many other occupations (range: 9-50 per 100 000 in women; 10-143 per 100 000 in men). There was weak evidence that secondary school teachers had slightly higher risks of dying with COVID-19 compared with the average for all working-aged people, but stronger evidence of a higher risk compared with the average for all professionals; primary school teachers had a lower risk. All-cause mortality was also higher among all teachers compared with all professionals. Teaching and lunchtime assistants were not at higher risk of death from COVID-19 compared with all working-aged people.

CONCLUSION: There was weak evidence that COVID-19 mortality risk for secondary school teachers was above expectation, but in general school staff had COVID-19 mortality risks which were proportionate to their non-COVID-19 mortality risk.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere050656
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalBMJ Open
Volume11
Issue number11
Early online date23 Nov 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding SJL, CLR and GDS have received a grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) COVID-19 mapping and mitigation in schools (CoMMinS). GDS is director of the MRC Integrative Epidemiology unit and receives support from the MRC (MC_UU_00011/1), CLR and MRM are members of the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit and also receive support from the MRC (MC_UU_00011/5) and (MC_UU_00011/7).

Funding Information:
SJL, CLR and GDS have received a grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) COVID-19 mapping and mitigation in schools (CoMMinS). GDS is director of the MRC Integrative Epidemiology unit and receives support from the MRC (MC_UU_00011/1), CLR and MRM are members of the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit and also receive support from the MRC (MC_UU_00011/5) and (MC_UU_00011/7).

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