Research shows children are only half as likely as adults to be infected by the coronavirus
The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted normal everyday life. So, as states are navigating how to get back to normal life there are a lot of things to consider. One of them being how to safely open schools. Minnesota schools, for instance, have been instructed to prepare for three scenarios. These scenarios are-person learning for all students, distance learning only, and a hybrid of the two.
Luckily, more and more research is coming out showing how little at-risk children are when it comes to COVID-19. This should help inform decision making as states weigh between keeping schools closed or reopening them. Contrary to popular belief closing schools does not come at zero cost. There are tremendous schooling losses that come with requiring distance learning.
Children have a low risk of contracting the coronavirus
A recent study has found that “children and teenagers are only half as likely to get infected with the coronavirus as people 20 and older, and they usually don’t develop clinical symptoms of COVID-19“. This is in accordance with CDC findings that “children diagnosed with coronavirus in the United States typically have mild cases of the virus.”
This new report follows other reports that have seen likely results. The study was conducted by Epidemiologists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It surveyed six nations: Canada, China, Italy, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea. The report estimates that,
children are only about half as likely to become infected. When they do, they usually remain asymptomatic, or have mild, “subclinical” symptoms. Among individuals between the ages of 10 and 19 infected with the virus – SARS-CoV-2 – only 21% show symptoms, compared to 69% among patients over the age of 70.
States will, therefore, think twice about extending schools as a way to mitigate the spread of the virus.
These results have implications for the likely effectiveness of school closures in mitigating SARS-CoV-2 transmission, in that these might be less effective than for other respiratory infections.
Children are less likely to be big transmitters of the coronavirus
Even though researchers have not been able to determine if children are less infectious, this still brings some good news and relief.
Using a mathematical model, the authors show that even under the most pessimistic assumption that young people are fully infectious then school closures could still have substantially less impact on the epidemic than they would for influenza-like infections.
Since children are less likely to contract the coronavirus, holding everything else equal, they are also less likely to be big transmitters of the virus. This is evidenced by the finding that reopening schools in some countries did not worsen Covid-19 spread. So, added to already existing evidence, opening schools should not pose big harm to either kids or their families.