Epidemiology of COVID-19 in schools will need to be closely monitored, says GlobalData

As countries begin to reopen from COVID-19, one of the currently important issues to examine is that of school re-openings. As infected children generally have a less severe disease manifestation – and there are negative effects from school closures such as falling behind in learning, strain on caregivers, and social isolation – these will have to be weighed against the risks of increased spread of COVID-19. The spread of COVID-19 in schools should be closely monitored when they reopen, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Johanna Swanson, Product Manager at GlobalData comments: “While Sweden has kept its schools open during COVID-19, it is difficult to draw any conclusions on the spread of the disease as they did not track the spread of the infection among school children. A more recent study by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that school aged children (ages 10–19) can spread COVID-19 as well as adults, though younger children (ages 0–9) had a much lower transmission rate than adults.”

While children may exhibit a less severe version of COVID-19, the risk of them spreading the disease to their older family members, teachers, or other high risk groups that they may come into contact with should be considered. These transmissions could spark a new spike in the disease prevalence. School re-openings in countries with higher community transmission rates have resulted in increased transmission among the students and the community.

Swanson concludes: “There are steps that schools can take to mitigate the risk of transmission which include taking regular temperature checks of children, implementing physical distancing in the classrooms, increased hand washing, alternate schedules and reduced class sizes. As schools begin to reopen, steps will have to be taken to monitor students and possibly perform contact tracing.”

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