Do Kids Spread the Virus as Easily?

November 27, 2020

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Do Kids Spread the Virus as Easily?New evidence shows that young children do not spread the coronavirus as easily. But is it safe to bring them back to class? The Association of American Medical College's (AAMC) article titled, Kids, School, and COVID-19: What We Know—and What We Don't, published on November 5th, written by Patrick Boyle, stated that although young children are being sent back to school, schools are rarely super-spreaders. Researchers at Duke University School of Medicine asked selected parents from the Raleigh-Durham metropolitan area to track symptoms in children that tested positive for the coronavirus at the beginning of the pandemic and found one common answer. After 28 days, more than one-third of the 6 to 13-year-olds were asymptomatic.

These findings pose difficult decisions for school systems that have brought back students to class or are making plans to do so. As calls rise to bring kids back into classrooms, medical schools and university hospitals are reaching out and helping the educators develop plans which were built on data from schools that already had opened and evidence on how kids catch and transmit the coronavirus. The data suggests that schools can reopen safely but under certain conditions. Helen Bristow, the Program Manager of Duke's ABC Science Collaborative, says "we're nine to ten months into a brand-new disease and we're regularly learning something we didn't know before."

As mentioned at the beginning, schools are rarely super-spreaders. A study led by Brown University's economist Emily Oster, Ph.D., analyzed in-school infection from 47 states over the last two weeks of September. The data showed that more than 200,000 students and 63,000 staff returned to school and the infection rate among students was 0.13% and 0.24% among staff. The low infection rates support what other researchers have seen, albeit in small sample sizes.

A common characteristic among schools that are functioning well is that they are operating under capacity by grouping students to come to school on different days and allowing students to attend class from home. For example, a New York City school reported a 0.15% infection rate in mid-October and that just over one-quarter of its students attended in-person classes.

To read the complete article visit: Kids, School, and COVID-19: What We Know—and What We Don't for more information.

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