How children spread COVID-19 and can they go safely back to school?
Parents must make this decision for their little ones, not governments, but there is no hard data, just basic medical knowledge to rely on. This article has nothing to say about what parents should do. FPMag however will share what the experts are suggesting, which isn’t much except caution and if possible and practical, wait for a vaccine if there is any doubt. Meanwhile, children with special needs or children who have what are called comorbid chronic illnesses must be guided by their medical practitioners. “See your doctor.”
Here is why there is little to no data on the impact of COVID-19 on children.
- Few children are tested around the world.
- Children have been heavily protected during global lockdowns hence have not generally been exposed to the novel coronavirus.
- Children don’t go shopping in fact in most countries they are not permitted even in grocery stores.
- Children have been away from school.
There is a suspicion that in December 2019 and in January 2020, school children were spreaders of the coronavirus and some of the earliest low-load infections were brought to family homes by school children. Serology testing that yields much higher than known case counts has brought this question up. It is likely a valid fact and a warning that great care must be taken to avoid super spreading the disease in large schools. Then we will find out how many children react to the disease. That risk is dangerous.
Here is what the Center for Disease Conrol in the United States has to say in a somewhat political statement.
As families and policymakers make decisions about their children returning to school, it is important to consider the full spectrum of benefits and risks of both in-person and virtual learning options. Parents are understandably concerned about the safety of their children at school in the wake of COVID-19. The best available evidence indicates if children become infected, they are far less likely to suffer severe symptoms.,, Death rates among school-aged children are much lower than among adults. At the same time, the harms attributed to closed schools on the social, emotional, and behavioral health, economic well-being, and academic achievement of children, in both the short- and long-term, are well-known and significant. Further, the lack of in-person educational options disproportionately harms low-income and minority children and those living with disabilities. These students are far less likely to have access to private instruction and care and far more likely to rely on key school-supported resources like food programs, special education services, counseling, and after-school programs to meet basic developmental needs.
The full document is here.
SARS-COV-2 is in the air. It is a respiratory disease.
Children laugh, yell, cry, scream, sing, bluster. That’s a problem if one or more in a school is infected with the coronavirus. So far there is no data on what happens under those circumstances. We are about to find out.
“Children forget rules. That’s a problem,” says nurse Karinna Angeles in the Philippines. “Some children get very very sick with COVID-19 disease. Some die. That is completely unacceptable. We need to draw the line now that so many thousands of their grandparents have been killed by the virus.”
“SARS-COV-2, this vicious bag of virus spawn cannot have our children,” she added.
“Sending small children back to school is an enormous risk if community testing for COVID-19 is producing a positive percentage greater than five,” suggests the World Health Organization.
That is especially true if case numbers and deaths in the region are increasing or are already particularly high.
Very few regions of America and none of Brazil are candidates for sending children back to school at the present time. But there is no one-rule fits all.
COVID-19 Leadership Comparisons
U.S.A.: Joseph Biden
- 88,380,921 Cases
- 1,040,792 reported out of 1,303,044 Excess Deaths
- 84,430,789 Recoveries
India: Narendra Modi
- 43,391,331 Cases
- 524,974 Reported Deaths
- 42,761,481 Recoveries
Brazil: Jair Bolsonaro
- 32,061,959 Cases
- 670,418 Reported Deaths
- 30,566,088 Recoveries
UK: Boris Johnson
- 22,592,827 Cases
- 179,927 Reported Deaths
- 22,114,597 Recoveries
--- --- --- Compare --- --- ---
Germany: Olaf Scholz
- 27,771,111 Cases
- 140,734 Deaths
- 26,406,100 Recoveries
Netherlands: Mark Rutte
- 8,152,778 Cases
- 22,354 Deaths
- 7,986,395 Recoveries
Canada: Justin Trudeau
- 3,938,515 Cases
- 41,876 Deaths
- 3,844,227 Recoveries
China: Xi Jinping
- 225,526 Cases
- 5,226 Deaths
- 219,714 Recoveries
South Korea: Moon Jae-In
- 18,326,019 Cases
- 24,522 Deaths
- 17,770,685 Recoveries
New Zealand: Jacinda Ardern
- 1,308,387 Cases
- 1,410 Deaths
- 1,271,986 Recoveries
Taiwan: Tsai Ing-wen
- 3,573,703 Cases
- 6,120 Deaths
- 2,398,738 Recoveries
Just like leaders of some countries through incompetence or just not caring killed their seniors and many of their medical frontliners, they will kill their K-12 educators. And that is the risk.
How do children spread the disease.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness and it is spread in respiratory droplets of fluid and debris from the lungs and from the upper respiratory system. Big people with big lungs spread these droplets more than little people with small lungs. Breathing is enough to spread the disease. Singing, yelling, coughing, sneezing, spread the disease more than just breathing.
Medical practitioners can fall back to basic medicine. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease and should be treated as such until proved to be otherwise. Prevention of COVID-19 is straightforward: protect the respiratory system.
Once infected with COVID-19, the entire human body can fall victim to this ferocious coronavirus which humans have no ability yet to suppress, unlike some of our mammal cousins which have been doing that for thousands of years.
Children under ten years of age have small lungs, obviously, and do not intake and expel air in the same volumes as fully grown adults.
“But small children are constantly in their parent’s arms, needing more emotional support and human contact. The little ones are carried to bed, held when they bump a toe or hurt an elbow or just feel estranged,” says Deborah Haskell, a mom in Darien Connecticut and member of The RINJ Foundation.
“In those embraces are the exchanges of deep lung debris. Mostly that’s about shared immunities but in the case of COVID-19, that’s a potentially deadly exchange of a pathogen brought from school. The R0 of such infections at home are extremely high,” says nurse practitioner Michele Francis.
- Can dear love survive through a breathing mask?
- Can parents afford to engage small school children without wearing a .3 micron-filtering medical mask as the World Health Organization has indicated? The WHO says, “No”.
Parents know their children and the environment their children currently live within. If their absence from school has been either positive or neutral, waiting for a vaccine is not outlandish if the local community has a high community spread. If in-class schooling is available and the community spread has been halted, getting back to school thus far has not been contraindicated.
The Ontario Canada Example:
The following is derived from “Approach to reopening schools for the 2020-2021 school year“, by the Ontario Canada Education Ministry.
Voluntary school attendance
“The return to school in the fall of 2020-21 will be voluntary and based on parent choice. For parents who choose not to send their child back to school, school boards should be prepared to offer remote education. This requirement will be in place for as long as public health circumstances require adapted delivery of education,” says the statement of the Ontario government.
School organization and timetabling
The current public health circumstances related to COVID-19 will require Ontario school boards to prepare for a range of delivery circumstances for the 2020-21 school year.
In light of the continuing uncertainty about public health risks, school boards will be asked to prepare for:
- normal school day routine with enhanced public health protocols
- modified school day routine based on smaller class sizes, cohorting and alternative day or week delivery, and
- at-home learning with ongoing enhanced remote delivery
The ministry will stay in close communication with school boards through June and July, and to provide further guidance based on the latest public health advice in early August to prepare for school opening.
School boards may need to be nimble and adopt one or more of these forms of delivery through the school year, and be able to move between these forms of delivery depending on public health circumstances.
To the greatest extent possible, boards are encouraged to assign students, teachers and educational assistants and ECEs to class groupings as they would in a conventional school year, so that class groupings can be maintained despite the form of delivery that is in place at any one time.
Modified school-day routine
Should public health conditions allow for the re-opening of schools, it could be under adapted conditions that prioritize student and staff health and safety.
The ministry is drawing on two key aspects of health advice: “distancing” and “cohorting”.
“Distancing” refers to the advice that individuals should avoid close personal contact and maintain 2 meters of separation for any prolonged encounters.
“Cohorting” refers to minimizing the number of students and teachers any individual comes in contact with, and to maintaining consistency in those contacts as much as possible.
Together, these approaches lead to the advice that school boards should adopt adapted delivery models that:
- maintain a limit of 15 students in a typical classroom at one time
- adopt timetabling that would allow, to the greatest extent practical, for students to remain in contact with only their classmates and a single teacher for as much of the school day as possible
This approach has a number of implications:
- maintaining a limit of 15 or fewer students in a classroom will require alternate day or week delivery to a segment of the class at one time
- students not in class for a day or days would need to be assigned curriculum linked work; where possible, students not in class could participate in synchronous learning with their classmates for a period of the school day
- teachers would need to prepare lesson plans that could be delivered through alternate day or week timetables, where part of a student’s timetable would be in school learning and part would be remote learning
- boards would need to consider providing students with a high level of special education needs, for whom remote learning may be challenging, the option of attending school every day
- a range of timetabling models could be developed to support local circumstances
- the need to limit rotating teachers would require adaptation to the delivery of subjects such as French or Anglais, art, music, and physical education
- students and teachers would be encouraged to remain in their classroom and to move as a cohort to entrances, exits, or other spaces within the school
- teachers would be encouraged to establish virtual staff rooms and not congregate before arriving in, or returning to their classrooms
- where a large class size would not permit alternate day delivery even with cohorts of 15, boards would be encouraged to form additional classes led by specialist or untimetabled teachers.
At the secondary level, additional adaptations may be required to minimize the circulation of students and the mixing of students outside of a class cohort.
The ministry anticipates that schools and boards will identify a range of timetabling and delivery approaches that reflect the goals of distancing and cohorting and is willing to review and discuss all reasonable adaptations.