Children are not as vulnerable to coronavirus infection as adults but the risks are not the same for the younger generation.
State and local officials reportedly continue to prepare for the reopening of schools in their respective areas this fall despite the surging cases of coronavirus infections nationwide. While health experts explain the considerable social benefits of the resumption of in-person classes, they warn that schools need to balance the value against likely risks to offer a safe learning atmosphere for students, as well as their teachers and administrators.
Evidence suggests that the younger generation is not as vulnerable as adults to coronavirus infection. Scientists noted that even among infected children, it is relatively rare for them to experience serious complications that require hospitalization.
This does not mean, however, that classrooms are exempt from coronavirus safety precautions like social distancing, particularly if educational facilities intend to bring the children back on-site in less than two months. “It really should not be a debate of getting children back to school, but getting kids back to school safely,” Dr. Jennifer Lighter said in an NBC News report. She is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at NYU Langone Health.
Getting kids to attend physical classes in the fall is an ideal situation, according to Dr. Lighter, but schools have to put safety policies in place, such as having students maintain distance indoors and avoiding close contact for long periods. Other safety measures are decreasing the sizes of classes, rearranging their desks to make sure there is no close clustering of kids, and transferring gym classes and other recreational activities outdoors, she added.
Minimal COVID-19 Cases
The U.S. Census Bureau data shows that kids comprise around 22% of the entire population in the country. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say children account for only 2% of COVID-19 cases so far.
Dr. C. Buddy Creech, an associate professor of pediatrics at Nashville’s Vanderbilt University Medical, revealed that the scientific community still does not have an explanation for the disparity. He opined that the coronavirus pandemic is strange in a way that for respiratory viruses, it is usually the children that are the first and most significantly affected. Dr. Creech added that in this case, it is the complete opposite because it is the adults that are more affected.
More Research Needed
According to Dr. William Raszka, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, it is also not known how or why the risks are not the same for all young people. He explained that there are shreds of evidence that adolescents, particularly those with pre-existing medical conditions, are at the same risk of infection as adults. He admitted though that the matter needs more research.
Dr. Raszka added that the younger the kid, the less likely they can transmit the disease. “Once you get to high school age, you’re going to be a little bit more concerned, [and]once you’re in college-age, you’re going to be a lot concerned,” he said.