Researchers looked at responses from 57,335 daycare providers, including those that continued to provide child care and those that did not, during the first three months of the pandemic and found that there were “no differences in COVID-19 outcomes,” indicating that there was a low risk of children spreading the disease to adults.
“The amount of contact they had with child care was completely unrelated to whether or not they got sick with COVID-19 or were hospitalized with COVID-19,” Walter Gilliam, a professor at the Yale Child Care Center and lead author of the study, said on North Country Public Radio.
Gilliam said that on-site safety measures were taken, such as frequent hand washing, disinfecting surfaces, and screening for illness. Mask-wearing wasn’t a significant preventative measure as many providers and even more children didn’t wear them, but it didn’t mean that masks were not effective, said Gilliam.
Community spread was a larger factor in whether a daycare provider got COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
“And if the COVID transmission rates are too high, it doesn’t really matter necessarily that the child care program isn’t spreading COVID-19,” Gilliam said. “The child care providers will get sick in the community.”
The study has a significant impact on child care providers, the economy, and parents who are still unsure about sending their child to daycare.
According to a June survey (pdf) by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, “on average, enrollment is down by 67%” and “approximately two out of every five respondents—and half of those who are minority-owned businesses—are certain that they will close permanently without additional public assistance.”
The Yale study’s authors say that their findings may not apply to schools with older children as the student population is greater in middle schools and high schools.
However, Dr. Jeff Barke, a primary care physician in California and a school board chair of a public charter school in Orange County, said in his presentation at America’s Frontline Doctors’ second White House Summit, that schools should reopen for all levels as there is a high survival rate for people 19 and under.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Sept. 10 update to its “COVID-19 Pandemic Planning Scenarios,” the IFR (infection fatality ratio) estimates broken down by age show a survival rate of 99.99 percent for 0-19 years old.
The IFR accounts for all infected individuals—symptomatic and symptomatic—who have died of COVID-19, is considered more accurate in the scientific community. It’s different from the case fatality rate (CFR), which includes only confirmed cases.
Barke also says the fear propagated about the virus is doing more harm in children. “Our children are being harmed, not by the virus, but by our reaction to the virus,” he said.
“We must remove the politics of COVID out of our schools and away from our children because we’re harming our children in a way that will last. Unfortunately for years and years to come, even after this pandemic is behind us.”
While it’s a tragedy that 72 children have died of COVID-19, Barke says more children are at a higher risk of dying from drowning and car crashes. There are also the long-term effects of depression and anxiety due to the stress from remote learning and social distancing from peers.
Barke’s young patients have shared their fears with him. He says that an 8-year-old patient had “such severe anxiety” that she was afraid “to take her mask off at home because she’s worried she’s going to kill her parents.” While another patient, a 12-year-old boy, refused to go to school for fear of dying there.
Children are at low risk of COVID-19 Barke says, so “there is no reason to keep them home from school. And there is no reason to be masking healthy children within our schools. There is little evidence, if any, that children can spread this virus to at-risk adults. And the fear that U.S. adults have created is far more harmful to these children than the virus itself.”