As the reopening of schools and daycares during the pandemic continues to be a hotly debated subject, new research shows that children are not as resilient to COVID-19 as many previously believed.
A study from South Korea analyzed nearly 60,000 contact points from 5,706 patients with COVID-19.
Not only did the researchers find that the use of personal protective measures, such as masks, and physical or social distancing reduces the likelihood of transmission, they also found that the rate of transmission for children age 10 and over can be just as high as adults.
The researchers did note that children age 9 and under seemed to have the lowest rate of transmission, but that risk still existed.
Researchers even hypothesized the rate of transmission for this age group may go up as daycares and preschools begin to open again.
In fact, another study from Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago backs up that hypothesis.
Researchers from that study found that children under the age of 5 have a higher viral load of the disease than older children and adults, which may suggest they carry a greater risk of transmission.
As everyone becomes increasingly anxious for a return to normal, it’s understandable that some may be frustrated by the changing information we have about this disease.
Dr. Jennifer E. Schuster, pediatric infectious diseases physician at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, Missouri, understands that frustration and the confusion all this rapidly changing information can cause.
“However,” Schuster explained, “new information allows us to make better recommendations and better take care of our children and families.”
She encourages people to look to verified sources for the latest updates, identifying the CDC website, local public health departments, and even your own medical practitioner as the best sources of information.
In the meantime, Schuster said protecting kids is the same as protecting adults.
“Children should physically distance, and those who are 2 years old and older should wear a mask. Children should practice hand hygiene correctly and frequently, just like adults,” she said, pointing out that establishing these practices at home can help better equip your children to protect themselves when they’re out in the world.
“We have learned a lot in the last 8 months about COVID-19, and we will continue to learn more, which will help us take better care of our community,” Schuster said. “It is our job to mitigate risks, so we can continue to take care of everyone: from infants to adults.”
To that end, she recommends parents and teachers alike look to Children’s Mercy guidance for school reopenings.
“COVID-19 is a serious disease,” Schuster said. “Although children are at lower likelihood to have serious illness, many people in the community do get very sick. It is everyone’s responsibility to help decrease the spread of COVID-19, including children.”
Medical reference: Healthline