Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Frontiers in Public Health



PubMed ID



Frontiers Media S.A.


School of Medical and Health Sciences


Western Australian Department of Health Telethon Kids Institute


Mullane, M. J., Thomas, H. M., Epstein, M., Mandzufas, J., Mullan, N., Whelan, A., ... Gething, P. (2021). DETECT schools study protocol: A prospective observational cohort surveillance study investigating the impact of COVID-19 in Western Australian schools. Frontiers in Public Health, 9, article 636921.


Introduction: Amidst the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, understanding the transmission dynamics of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is key to providing peace of mind for the community and informing policy-making decisions. While available data suggest that school-aged children are not significant spreaders of SARS-CoV-2, the possibility of transmission in schools remains an ongoing concern, especially among an aging teaching workforce. Even in low-prevalence settings, communities must balance the potential risk of transmission with the need for students' ongoing education. Through the roll out of high-throughput school-based SARS-CoV-2 testing, enhanced follow-up for individuals exposed to COVID-19 and wellbeing surveys, this study investigates the dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 transmission and the current psychosocial wellbeing impacts of the pandemic in school communities. Methods: The DETECT Schools Study is a prospective observational cohort surveillance study in 79 schools across Western Australia (WA), Australia. To investigate the incidence, transmission and impact of SARS-CoV-2 in schools, the study comprises three “modules”: Module 1) Spot-testing in schools to screen for asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2; Module 2) Enhanced surveillance of close contacts following the identification of any COVID-19 case to determine the secondary attack rate of SARS-CoV-2 in a school setting; and Module 3) Survey monitoring of school staff, students and their parents to assess psycho-social wellbeing following the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in WA. Clinical Trial Registration: Trial registration number: ACTRN12620000922976



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.