Are Kid’s Super Spreaders of the Virus?
Kids Get Sick More, Right?
Children are not major transmitters of this virus in most research so far. A published study from Switzerland shows that kids 16 years old and under are the source of infection in only 3 percent of cases. Other data from Australia, France and China all show similar findings, indicating that keeping schools closed may not be necessary. One large study from South Korea shows that 10-19 year old’s may transmit at the same rate as adults but younger children are much less of a risk.
This information goes against the common consensus that kids are vectors for the cold and flu. Kids do get sick more often but this is a result of healthy immune system responding appropriately to exposure. School is where most kids develop a robust immune system. However there is some research out of the US that raises concern. In countries that have not been able to conduct adequate early measures the results look different.
Should Schools Reopen?
According to sophisticated mathematical modelling studies keeping schools closed will prevent infection and death less than other social distancing measures. We could consider not reopening if closure would stop the pandemic but the research is clear. Schools are a source of strength for communities in times of crisis.
At the beginning of the pandemic I was talking with a researcher who works in communities around the world. She spoke about the recovery of communities where schools remained open versus those that didn’t. The adult survivors were much more resourced and able to overcome the stresses of what they had endured. School provide a sense of normalcy.
Isolation & Violence
The adverse effects of keeping schools closed is concerning for both children and adults. Prolonged isolation is not healthy for anyone and the those at risk of violence need to be considered. Suicide and domestic violence has risen in the last few months along with other mental health conditions. We can’t let this be part of the new normal.
This time is one we will look back on for decades to come. Lives have been altered. In order to recover we need schools in session. Parents need to be able to work uninterrupted and kids need to play. Some will choose to not send their kids back but even knowing that the option is there is a resource.