We are a few weeks away from back-to-school sessions, and the debate around the reopening of the school is intensified. Meanwhile, the science around children and COVID-19 is still evolving. One thing is clear: the decision-making process will be unique to each district, school and family. Here, we answer some of the most important questions:
Can children hold COVID-19?
Yes, but they are less likely than adults. A study published in Science showed that children under the age of 14 are between one-third and one-half as likely as adults to contract the virus. Another group of researchers observed 2,000 children and teachers in schools around the German state of Saxony. Testing was conducted after reopening in several schools where outbreaks of the virus were detected. There were some coronovirus antibodies among children and teachers indicating that only a few of them had the disease.
Start the day smart. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 7% of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US are among children under 18. However, older Americans now represent a lower infection percentage at the outbreak. Most schools across the country closed in March as the virus began to spread more widely. This may explain why fewer children became ill.
What happens to children with coronovirus?
Severe effects from COVID-19 are rare in children – most heal within one to two weeks.
“We tested more than 8,000 children and most of these children are showing mild symptoms,” said Robert Dibasi, Head of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC.
People under the age of 18 usually do not experience fever, cough or shortness of breath. Some children have developed a multisystem inflammatory disorder, termed MIS-C. It is a condition where various parts of the body swell, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.
However, this complication is also rare. Additionally, as of July 22, there were 36 deaths among children under 14 or 0.03% of total patients nationwide resulting from COVID-19.
Researchers have no idea why children are doing better than adults. There are some theories around.
One of them is that there may be a decrease in the number of receptors in children that the virus needs to enter the body’s cells and then grow in those cells.
A child’s immune system is designed to understand and respond to new potential threats. It may be better prepared and fit to react to a novel coronavirus than an adult. With aging, malnutrition, immunosuppression, and chronic diseases, the immune system loses its ability to adapt to novelty.
However, if a person gets coronovirus, there is no guarantee that the disease will not return.
“If we take the percentage of patients who actually have measurable antibodies in their blood, we don’t yet know for sure if that antibody is there, even if it exists at the time that we can detect it. If that is also the type of antibody, Debi said that it will completely protect you from future infections.
There are also some studies that show coronovirus antibodies in some people only months later.
Will the coronavirus spread to classrooms?
The virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly spread by respiratory droplets and recent evidence suggests that in some cases, people may become infected with COVID-19 via aerosol transmission.
American classrooms typically have a crowd of a few dozen children, who, without thinking and wearing masks, can spread the droplets to their surroundings and breathe in those droplets. Students are usually in classes for extended periods, many to facilitate contact with droplets carrying the virus in the air. And older students often mix with dozens of new students in various classrooms throughout the day. That is why one of the main recommendations from the CDC in reopening schools is to wear masks of students of all ages and abilities and keep them at least six feet apart. The CDC also recommends that schools consider placing students in cohabitation, so that they can take more and more classes with the same group.
It is possible to get the virus even if you touch your eyes, nose or mouth after coming in contact with a contaminated surface. Students share toys, remotes, computers, restrooms, chairs and travel in tight halls, so schools can actually facilitate the spread of the disease.
Do children transmit COVID-19?
Yes. A South Korean study found that children under 10 transmit novel coronoviruses much less often than adults, but the risk is not zero. And people between 10 and 19 years old can spread the virus at least to adults as well.
Researchers studying family groups in several countries found that children’s homes were unlikely to be zero, with only 10% of the groups being accounted for. In one example, a child with COVID-19 was exposed to more than a hundred children at a ski resort, but no one became ill.
However, children are less likely than adults to show symptoms, so studies may have underestimated the number of children who have discontinued the chain of transmission within their homes.
“If children are talking or laughing, or singing or screaming, or sneezing or coughing, and no one thinks they are infected, but they are in fact, the population. May be a way to further the spread of the virus in humans. “, Steven L. Said Zeichner, a professor of pediatrics and microbiology at the University of Virginia.
Other studies have also suggested that a large number of contacts for schoolchildren, who interact with dozens of others for a good part of the day, may rule out their small risk of infecting others.
What about COVID-19 and teachers?
According to research by the National Center for Education Statistics, the average age of teachers in American schools is around 43. Older teachers work in small public and private schools. The elderly are at risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19.
What are the plans to reopen the schools?
While schools in the US are not yet in session, we have seen some international examples. Some schools have been temporarily closed if only one student was detected with COVID-19. Many children or employees had to remain open even after the illness, sending only affected and direct contacts to quarantine. Some schools also introduced the need for masks and implemented social removal measures. Please check with your local school district for specific guidance.
More work will be required for parents and schools to work again. Children must wear masks, wash hands frequently, and cover coughs and sneezes, as suggested by the CDC.
Opening schools will need to implement additional cleaning and disinfection processes, particularly for shared workspaces such as hallways, playgrounds, cafeterias and libraries. By estimate, the average school district would spend $ 1.8 million on health and safety measures to reopen.
Various safety strategies are being practiced in schools around the world, including a combination of the need for masks, reducing the number of students per class, temperature checks, social disturbances and increased hand washing. Some countries have limited in-person classes for younger students, who are at low risk of contracting and spreading the COVID-19.
Recent studies of COVID-19 have estimated that school closures alone account for only 2% to 4% of deaths, much less than other social distance interventions. A pre-emptive study focusing on the five-day closure of nearly all schools in the Seattle metropolitan area estimated that coronavirus infection decreased by just 5% as a result of school closures.
Can social isolation harm my children?
According to an open letter published last month, an open letter signed by more than 1500 members of the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), “risks reducing the life chances of young people”. Continues to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advocates “students being physically present at school”.
Social isolation can cause psychological harm. In a study published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers in Hubei Province, China, the origins of the epidemic examined a sample group of 2,330 schoolchildren for signs of emotional distress. The children were locked away for an average of 33.7 days. Even after that one month, 22.6% of them were experiencing symptoms of depressive disorder and about 19% of anxiety.
Children who already suffer from depression and anxiety may be at greater risk. In the aftermath of 9/11, the level of adolescent distress was closely tracked whether they had a history of such conditions.
Should schools be closed?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to the question of whether schools should be opened or closed. Experts say that schools should primarily decide whether COVID-19 is spreading in their area. In most parts of the country, coronovirus is still roaming.
“Each particular school, district or county has to see with their health department what the daily increase in cases is, or an average of seven days of increase in cases and a handle on whether the virus has control in their area. Their counties or not, ”said DeBisi.
Next, schools should consider whether they might be able to implement security measures, such as maintaining social distance, and reducing class sizes. At the third level are individual families.
“In a family in which many elderly people live, or whose parents or other children have immunomodified children, the decision to send their child to school for a family may be completely different from the home where someone No older people, ”said DeBisi.
Some children may also be more vulnerable than others. Children and young adults over 15 years of age required critical care in a study led by DeBisi. She and her colleagues examined medical records of diseased children and young adults seeking treatment at Children’s National for COVID-19 between March 15 and April 30. Most hospitalized children had an underlying condition.
Younger patients with underlying neurological conditions, such as cerebral palsy, microcephaly, or global developmental delay were significantly more likely to be hospitalized. Other common underlying diseases included congenital heart disease, cancer, and blood disorders. Immunosuppressed patients and those with a disease that would potentially cause them trouble breathing may also be at greater risk.
This article originally appeared on USA Today: Should I Send My Child Back to School? This is the latest science on coronaviruses and children
Video: CDC releases new guidelines on back-to-school coronavirus safety (CBS Los Angeles)