What's The Risk Of Shared Classroom Materials?

In our series "What's the Risk?" experts weigh in on what risks different scenarios pose for transmitting COVID-19.
Posted at 10:15 AM, Aug 13, 2020

As the school year starts, you might be wondering about the risks of getting sick with COVID-19.  

We asked the experts, what's the risk of sharing classroom materials?

Their take: The risk of contracting COVID-19 from sharing classroom materials is medium risk.

"We just do not see a substantial transmission from objects to people. That being said, we are still working on sterilizing shared equipment, and we absolutely should do that," Cleveland Clinic pediatric infectious diseases specialist Dr. Frank Esper said.

"Think also of the concept of a lot of students around a microscope. Right. This is just natural human behavior when you're in that type of environment, especially if you're excited about learning about something which you hope that children are. So that increases the risk," Neysa Ernst, Johns Hopkins Biocontainment Unit nurse manager, said.

"If you're going to have experiments in a science class, for example, you should have each student's individual material shrink-wrapped and sterilized beforehand so that every suit has the individual materials. But we also know that that's not the nature of most classrooms. There is so much sharing of scissors and pencils and paper. And so I think that this is a new paradigm that we've got to get used to in order for students to feel like they're still having the same experiences of their fellow students," Annette Anderson, deputy director for the Johns Hopkins University Center for Safe and Healthy Schools, told Newsy.

For more answers on what is low, medium, or high risk, visit