Follow the Research

“The truth is, for kids K through 12, one of the safest places they can be - from our perspective - is to remain in school.” (Nov. 19, 2020)


New Variants of the Virus that Causes COVID-19

“So far, studies suggest that antibodies generated through vaccination with currently authorized vaccines recognize these variants. This is being closely investigated and more studies are underway.”

Reference:

New Variants of the Virus that Causes COVID-19


Incidence and Secondary Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 Infections in Schools

This study examined school systems in North Carolina.

“In the first 9 weeks of in-person instruction in North Carolina schools, we found extremely limited within-school secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2, determined by contact tracing.”

“No instances of child-to-adult transmission of SARS-CoV-2 were reported within schools.“

“If secondary transmission were as common in schools as in the community, we would anticipate 800–900 secondary infections within schools; however, only 32 within-school SARS-CoV-2 transmissions occurred.“

“Our cohort study demonstrated that enforcing SARS-CoV-2 mitigation policies such as masking, physical distancing, and hand hygiene, resulted in minimal clusters of SARS-CoV-2 infection and low rates of secondary transmission in schools, and did not cause a larger community
infection burden.”

Reference:

abcsciencecollaborative.org


COVID-19 in general:

“Children are at similar risk of infection as the general population.”

“Compared with children and adolescents (aged <18) who tested negative for the virus that causes COVID-19, children who tested positive were more likely to have attended gathering, but were not more likely to have attended childcare or school in person”

Reference:

2019 Novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19) Pandemic


COVID-19 Cases and Transmission in 17 K–12 Schools — Wood County, Wisconsin, August 31–November 29, 2020

This article is examining school systems in Wood County, Wisconsin.

“With masking requirements and student cohorting, transmission risk within schools appeared low, suggesting that schools might be able to safely open with appropriate mitigation efforts in place.”

“Among the 191 cases identified in students and staff members, one in 20 cases among students was linked to in-school transmission; no infections among staff members were found to have been acquired at school.”

“In a setting of widespread community SARS-CoV-2 transmission, few instances of in-school transmission were identified among students and staff members, with limited spread among children within their cohorts and no documented transmission to or from staff members.”

Reference:

COVID-19 Cases and Transmission in 17 K–12 Schools — Wood County, Wisconsin, August 31–November 29, 2020(cdc.gov)


Episode #22 - Children & COVID-19

This is a Podcast hosted by the WHO with Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove.

“So, virus variants mean changes in the virus and we are detecting changes in the SARS-CoV-2 virus over time. This is expected. Many of these changes do not have any impact on the virus in terms of its ability to transmit or the disease that it causes. But some variants we call “variants of concern” and these viruses need more study. And scientists are looking at the way the virus transmits, the disease that it causes, and luckily so far, these variants do not tend to cause more severe disease across any age group. 

Reference:

Episode #22 - Children & COVID-19 (who.int)


COVID-19 Cases and Transmission in 17 K–12 Schools

This study examined schools in Wood County, Wisconsin, August 31–November 29, 2020

Reference:

COVID-19 Cases and Transmission in 17 K–12 Schools


Why schools probably aren’t COVID hotspots1

Young children are unlikely to spread the virus — but older kids are more at risk, say researchers.

Young children transmit less

“children — especially those under the age of 12–14 — are less susceptible to infection than adults,”

“The potential to transmit increases’ with age, and adolescents are just as likely to transmit the virus as adults”

“Teenagers and teachers should be the focus of mitigation measures, such as wearing masks or a return to online lessons when community transmission is high”

“In the United States, the rate of infection is twice as high in children aged 12–17 years as it is among 5–11-year-olds6

Kids likely not driving household COVID-19 outbreaks2

Only 4% of household clusters caused by children

“The study authors found only 8 of 213 transmission clusters (3.8%) with a pediatric index case.”

“Children were also less likely than adults to become infected by another member of the household (SAR risk ratio [RR], 0.62; 95% CI, 0.42 to 0.91) and were responsible for far fewer secondary cases than adult index cases—only 16 of 398.”

"Children may be less infectious than adults infected with SARS-CoV-2 due to their more mild clinical manifestation of disease," the authors wrote. "However, such a hypothesis requires validation across a larger and more diverse dataset."

Exclusive: Kids catch and spread coronavirus half as much as adults, Iceland study confirms3

“This 40,000-person study found that children under 15 were about half as likely as adults to be infected, and only half as likely as adults to transmit the virus to others. Almost all the coronavirus transmissions to children came from adults.”

“...the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that schools should be both ‘the last settings to close’ and ‘the first to reopen.”

Don’t treat all ages the same

“In addition to the Iceland study, other research has shown that pre-pubescent kids have a significantly lower likelihood of getting sick. So, school officials need to make a distinction between younger children and adolescents.”

"The takeaway is that a critical shift appears somewhere between the ages of 10 and 12. Around the time of puberty, the risk of teenagers both getting and transmitting the virus increases."

"The COVID Monitor, a group tracking information from more than 7,000 U.S. school districts, found that high school case rates are nearly three times that of elementary schools."

Transmission heterogeneities, kinetics, and controllability of SARS-CoV-24

“Susceptibility to infection (defined as the risk of infection given a contact with primary case) by age: children aged 0-12 years are significantly less susceptible than individuals 26-64 years (odds ratio 0.41, 95% CI 0.26 to 0.63)”

“In contrast, we find no statistical support for age difference in infectivity (fig. S3A). These results are in agreement with previous findings (12, 26, 27).”

“As a result, strict physical distancing confines the epidemic mostly to families and households”

References

  1. Lewis, Dyani. Why Schools Probably Aren't COVID Hotspots. 29 Oct. 2020, www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-02973-3.
  2. Stacy Kuebelbeck Paulsen | News Writer | CIDRAP News | Dec 07, 2020. Kids Likely Not Driving Household COVID-19 Outbreaks. 7 Dec. 2020, www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2020/12/kids-likely-not-driving-household-covid-19-outbreaks.
  3. Morton, Photograph by Rosem, and Photograph by Wang Ying. “Exclusive: Kids Catch and Spread Coronavirus Half as Much as Adults, Iceland Study Confirms.” Science, 12 Dec. 2020, www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/12/we-now-know-how-much-children-spread-coronavirus/.
  4. Sun, Kaiyuan, et al. “Transmission Heterogeneities, Kinetics, and Controllability of SARS-CoV-2.” 2020, doi:10.1101/2020.08.09.20171132.

Social Distancing, Mask Use

To mitigate the risks, the AAP recommends children over age 2 years and adult staff wear cloth face coverings. Other recommended layers of protection include keeping desks at least 3 feet apart, and ideally 6 feet apart, cohorting students, using outdoor spaces when possible, promoting hand and cough hygiene and increasing cleaning and disinfection of facilities."


"As Coronavirus Cases Surge, New Antibody Study Shows Young Children May Be Less Likely to Spread Virus; Could Spell Good News for In-Person Elementary and Middle School Learning"

Read more about the study here.


No evidence of secondary transmission of COVID-19 from children attending school in Ireland, 2020

“As many countries begin to lift some of the restrictions to contain COVID-19 spread, lack of evidence of transmission in the school setting remains. We examined Irish notifications of SARS-CoV2 in the school setting before school closures on 12 March 2020 and identified no pediatric transmission. This adds to current evidence that children do not appear to be drivers of transmission, and we argue that reopening schools should be considered safe accompanied by certain measures.”

“These findings suggest that schools are not a high risk setting for transmission of COVID-19 between pupils or between staff and pupils. Given the burden of closure outlined by Bayhem and Van Lanker reopening of schools should be considered as an early rather than a late measure in the lifting of restriction.”



Schools and the Path to Zero
Strategies for Pandemic Resilience in the Face of High Community Spread

“In July, we published guidance for school leaders making decisions about school re-openings that offered a tiered structure for thinking about risk at different levels of community spread. We recommended that schools be closed once the average daily case rate rose above 25 cases/100,000 people, at the county level. Since July, our scientific understanding of COVID has increased significantly, as has our understanding of degrees of risk in schools, and we can now recommend that schools be open even at the very high levels of spread we are now seeing, provided that they strictly implement strategies of infection control.”

“Our knowledge about the virus and about mitigation strategies for infection control has increased significantly from July. Based on 3 months of varying school re-openings across the country that have served as a national natural experiment, it is now clear that schools with in-person learning that use effective mitigation strategies are very unlikely to create super spreader events and, even more importantly, can create safe environments. Effective mitigation strategies can achieve lower secondary transmission rates than the primary transmission rates of the surrounding community… The most important elements of infection control that matter are:

  • universal masking (including while speaking)
  • hand and bathroom hygiene
  • achieving 4-6 air changes per hour of 'clean' air through any combination of ventilation and filtration (or outdoor classrooms)
  • 3 ft social distancing for young learners at all levels of community spread
  • 6ft social distancing for high schools when levels of community spread rise above 100/100,000 daily new cases; 3ft social distancing below that level
  • robust quarantine policies and contact tracing practices
  • and, where feasible, surveillance/screening testing, also discussed below under ‘testing.'”

“School reopenings with strong controls in place have limited impact on community-transmission rates. In global settings, school reopenings accompanied by strong mitigation measures have not been associated with spikes in infection in the school setting or broader community.”

“Teachers face no greater risk than other comparatively low-risk front-line workers such as grocery clerks or retail workers--and far less than meatpackers and health care aides, for instance.”

“The accumulated evidence supports the view that schools in general have been and can be quite safe when they implement careful infection-control protocols: millions of schools open globally without significant evidence of school-based transmission. Capacity for maintaining infection control protocols is the best guide for determining the safety of opening for in-person learning.”


Operating schools during COVID-19: CDC's Considerations

As communities in the United States consider how to safely re-open K-12 school buildings for in-person learning and activities and keep them open, CDC offers updated considerations for mitigation strategies that school administrators can use to help protect students, teachers, and staff and slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Read the full study here