Research shows children are only half as likely to be infected by the coronavirus as adults

As states start to reopen, one conundrum that they have to deal with is how to safely reopen schools. Minnesota school districts, for instance, have been instructed to prepare for three scenarios: full in-person learning for all students, distance learning only, or a hybrid of the two.

Given the tremendous learning losses that have come with distance learning, in-person learning does provide the best option for students. However,  in-person learning also presents a bigger risk of COVID-19 spread.

But is the fear of in-person learning justified? Looking at the research, the answer is no.  According to the research that has come out, children are actually at low risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. And even when they contract the virus, they are less likely to get sick.

Children have a low risk of contracting the coronavirus

A recent study, for example, 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.

The study, which was conducted by Epidemiologists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, surveyed six nations: Canada, China, Italy, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea. The authors specifically estimate 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.

School closures are therefore an ineffective way to mitigate COVID-19 spread.

Children are less likely to be big transmitters of the coronavirus

It is still not clear whether children are less infectious, but the fact that they are less likely to contact the virus means that they are less likely to be vessels of spread even under the most pessimistic of assumptions.

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 the COVID-19 spread.

All in all, opening schools should not pose big harm to either kids or their families. Closing schools, on the other hand, will have enormous harm to children’s learning and development.