The benefits of face-to-face schooling with protective measures in place outweigh the risks of COVID-19 for children, according to new research published in the journal Science.
School closures since the beginning of the pandemic have affected not only children’s education, the authors write, but also their social and emotional well-being, and have also limited their access to welfare and social services, school meals and vaccinations at school.
The authors, Shamez N. Ladhani, a researcher at Public Health England from St. George’s University, and the sKIDs research team, highlight in a Perspective several studies of school systems conducted since 2020 that show that the risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 in schools remains very low , as is the risk of cases from schools causing outbreaks in the community.
They stress that the reasons for the lower transmission by children compared to adults remain uncertain , but include higher rates of asymptomatic infection, lower lung capacity, and shorter duration of viral shedding than in adults.
Although the risk of severe COVID-19 in children and their homes is low , long-term Covid in children remains a concern, and the emergence of more communicable variants of concern poses additional challenges for educational settings.
However, vaccinating adults will protect staff and family members against COVID-19, and the consequent reduction in infection rates in the community should provide indirect (herd) protection that would help reduce risk. of infection in children, the authors state.
“Now we have to focus on evaluating and applying evidence-based mitigation measures to reduce the risk of infection in schools, not only to protect students and staff, but also to minimize the disruption of education and access to education. additional services “, they affirm.