Despite the uncertainty, experts consulted by The Globe say the latest scientists evidence Skews is in favor of sending children to school – provided two conditions are met: the transmission of the virus should be less in the surrounding community, as in most Massachusetts cities and towns; And the school system should fully adopt safety measures such as wearing mandatory masks, physical disturbances, and opening windows or outdoor classrooms when possible.
He said, “Such horror stories are coming from some parts of the country which are still in high transmission. [of coronavirus], “Said Dr. Sylvia S. Chiang, a pediatric infectious disease doctor at Rhode Island Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School.” I’m afraid people will look at those people and say, ‘Oh no, We cannot reopen schools unless we have free space. ”
But in fact, Chiang said, “If the community transmission of the virus is controlled, you can open schools safely.” You should do this carefully. “
About 70 percent of Massachusetts school districts are offering a mix of in-person and distance education; Most of the remainder will only provide distance instruction, and a handful of individuals are striving full-time in learning.
Children 18 and younger Can be infected with coronaviruses, but it rarely makes them ill and is unlikely to kill them. Although this data remains messy, infected children – especially those younger than 10 – The virus is less likely to spread to others than adults.
When children acquire COVID-19, studies show that they are more likely to receive it from an adult than another child. COVID-19 associated catastrophic syndrome that can affect Children – multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children – has so far proved to be extremely rare.
A hard fact is: COVID-19 risk can never be brought down to zero.
But Barocas said the conversation overlooked the considerable risk to children’s mental and physical well-being as well as their education, as well as if they stayed home.
“My children are probably more at risk for depression than they are for COVID right now,” he said.
Barrocks and his wife have decided to send their children, ages 3 7 and 7, to their Roslindale neighborhood public schools next month, when in-person learning is about to begin. They weighed relatively low transmission rates in the region, a desire to wash their children Hand and wear masks (“they live with an infectious diseases doctor”), and the fact that both parents work and have limited time to oversee home schooling.
They concluded that the risk of their children becoming ill or transmitting the virus to others was significantly lower than the risks associated with “sitting home alone at the computer all day”.
But Barocas said it would not be “inappropriate” for another family to take the opposite decision.
The risk-benefit balance is particularly stark for children under 10: Based on the evidence so far, these youth are the least likely to get sick with coronovirus or transmit it to others, and if they If isolated, they suffer the most from their partners at home.
“The disadvantage of keeping children out of school is huge,” said Dr. Head of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Tufts Medical Center. Cody Meisner said. “It is not just education – it is socialization, which starts at a very young age. Pre-K children learn how to interact appropriately with each other. If they do not learn quickly, it is going to be a big problem. “
School closures are especially harmful to less affluent families, Meissner said. “Those students don’t need to learn what they want to learn to get gainful employment in this global economy, and they will never catch up,” he said.
Because transmission from child to adult appears to be rare, he said, “The risk is very low for teachers. A teacher’s risk of getting infected with COVID-19 is higher when compared to buying groceries at the supermarket while he is in class. “
Jessica Tang, president of the Boston Teachers Association, disagreed. He said that unlike many schools – grocery stores do not suffer from deferred maintenance for decades and there is no documented air quality issues. Teachers work not only with young children, but also for special students up to the age of 22, with whom social distance may be impossible, she said.
The teachers, Tang said, want to go back to school but worry about their safety.
“We have assurances to make sure our facilities are safe,” he said, adding that “the number one concern is air quality,” especially in aging buildings, some of which have HVAC systems or There are also no windows that can be opened. .
In the United States, the school season is still new, and the health outcomes of school openings have not been carefully tracked. But lessons can be taken from experiences elsewhere in the world.
Take Israel. In May, the country felt coronovirus under control and decided to open all schools at once. Other parts of Israel’s economy also opened at the same time, increasing the likelihood of the virus being around.
The small classrooms were packed with 38 students. And then hit a heat wave. Swelting students were allowed to remove their masks, and soon the windows were closed to work the air conditioning. The New York Times reported that within days, an outbreak began at Jerusalem High School, spreading to homes and eventually other schools and neighborhoods, and hundreds of schools were forced to close.
Brandon L. Guthrie, assistant professor of global health and epidemiology at the University of Washington, monitors school openings worldwide. “If you are going to reopen schools,” he told the Globe, “you need a plan for how you are going to limit the scope of the spread. And you need to stick to those plans.”
In Europe, Guthrie said, the schools reopened as soon as the community lockout ended. “As you have more people interacting and going about their normal lives, there is still potential transmission,” he said.
And once community broadcasting takes place, the cases will appear in schools. “That doesn’t mean you have a transmission in school,” Guthrie said. It is an open question to what extent do schools contribute to the spread of coronovirus outside its walls, he said.
Nevertheless, the experience in Europe provides encouraging insights.
In the United Kingdom, when schools and preschools reopened for a “mini” summer term in June following the height of the epidemic, very few cases occurred.
In an August 6 report, the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that coronovirus transmission within schools is uncommon and there is little evidence that schools transmit within a community.
With precautionary measures in place, Denmark did not see large school outbreaks or increased disease prevalence when schools reopened. In Sweden, where schools remained open throughout the epidemic, teachers were at no higher risk of getting infected than people in other occupations.
In the United States, some lessons can be taken from other types of gatherings for children.
Last June, careful caution was not taken at an overnight camp in Georgia, where the extinguished cabins engaged in “loud singing and cheering” had masked campers. There are approximately 597 adults and children participating in the trial for COVID-19.
In contrast, in Maine, where only three cases were reported among 1,022 people who attended four overnight camps. Testing, isolation and other precautions.
Last week, the Massachusetts Medical Society stated that it “supports the safe and equitable return of as many students, teachers and support staff as possible to in-person school settings.”
Still, parents will not get any clear lines or black-white answers. Boston’s father and doctor Barocas said that even the best security efforts are fallible.
“These are children,” he said. “They’re going to pull their mask down, they’re going to wipe their nose with their hand.” Recognizing that risk can never be zero, he said, the best anyone can do is reduce the likelihood of disease transmission as much as possible.