What we Know About Coronavirus Risks to School Age Children

Many parents and guardians are wondering whether it is safe to send their children back to school. But with most of the research and testing geared toward adults, the answer is complicated, especially as coronavirus cases are increasing at such a rapid pace.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) says the reopening of California schools for the coming school year will be based on safety and not pressure from Pres. Donald Trump as California sets records for one-day increases in COVID-19 cases.

Some parents are eager to get their children to some sort of normalcy as Pres. Trump is putting pressure on officials to reopen schools, saying decisions to remain closed are motivated by politics. Other parents are fearful their children might get exposed to infections.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued steps to keep children safe when schools reopen. Recommendations include placing desks six feet apart, ensuring children wear face coverings, and the closure of communal areas like dining rooms and playgrounds.

CDC has said that children are not immune to coronavirus, and some has tested positive for the virus. However, children don’t seem to get as sick as adults but they still can become dangerously ill.

Four children under age 17 have died of coronavirus complications in Florida. When the pandemic was raging, New York saw a growing number of children hospitalized with troubling symptoms linked to coronavirus; several died. In Texas, about 1,330 people have tested positive at child care facilities -- about a third of them children.

Children are not the only concern when schools reopen. Obviously, teachers are vulnerable to fatal infections, and with about a third of teachers nationwide over age 50, this is a major concern. Asymptomatic transmission of the virus is alarming, and the teachers can then pass the disease to more vulnerable people. School sickness can translate into a broader uptick a few weeks later.

Childrens’ Symptoms Can Differ From Adults

Children have been known to get a whole set of different symptoms, which makes it more difficult to pinpoint. The virus that has killed more than 133,000 people nationwide.

Many of the children tested positive for COVID-19, or had its antibodies but they didn't necessarily have typical coronavirus symptoms, including respiratory distress. Symptoms included a high temperature along with a rash, swollen neck glands, hands and feet, dry cracked lips and redness in both eyes.

Coronavirus causes a wide variety of symptoms in children, according to a study published in an American Academy of Pediatrics journal.

Research Focused on Children is Limited

It has been about six months since coronavirus has been clobbering the world population. Health officials are learning as they go; while numerous tests have been conducted to get more insight on the pathogen, not many have been focused on pediatric cases.

The U.S. data is incomplete. The country has not been testing enough children to determine how widespread the virus might be. Of those being tested nationwide, that group includes children under the age of 10. Most children under the age of 18 don’t have symptoms, and until health officials are able to target test that age group there is no way to know how many children die as a result of COVID-19. Researchers are working on a saliva test that'll make it easier to test children.

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  • Campus Security & Life Safety Magazine - May June 2020

    May / June 2020

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