Whether a child should go to school depends on their health condition, the current transmission of COVID-19 within their community, and the protective measures the school and community have in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
This is the advice the World Health Organisation has given as governments all over the country and beyond move to reopen schools in the light of the ongong COVID-19 global pandemic.
While current evidence suggests that the risk of severe disease for children is lower overall than for adults, special precautions can be taken to minimise the risk of infection among children, and the benefits of returning to school should also be considered.
“Current evidence suggests that people with underlying conditions such as chronic respiratory illness, including asthma (moderate-to-severe), obesity, diabetes or cancer, are at higher risk of developing severe disease and death than people without other health conditions.
“This also appears to be the case for children, but more information is still needed,” WHO submitted.
The global agency said incubation period for children is the same as in adults. “The time between exposure to COVID-19 and when symptoms start is commonly around five to six days, and ranges from one to 14 days,” WHO said.
Continuing, WHO said, “So far, data suggests that children under the age of 18 years represent about 8.5 per cent of reported cases, with relatively few deaths compared to other age groups and usually mild disease. However, cases of critical illness have been reported.
“As with adults, pre-existing medical conditions have been suggested as a risk factor for severe disease and intensive care admission in children.
“Further studies are underway to assess the risk of infection in children and to better understand transmission in this age group.
“The role of children in transmission is not yet fully understood. To date, few outbreaks involving children or schools have been reported. However, the small number of outbreaks reported among teaching or associated staff to date suggests that spread of COVID-19 within educational settings may be limited.
“As children generally have milder illness and fewer symptoms, cases may sometimes go unnoticed. Importantly, early data from studies suggest that infection rates among teenagers may be higher than in younger children.”
Considering that many countries are starting to slowly lift restrictions on activities, the longer-term effects of keeping schools open on community transmission are yet to be evaluated.
Some modelling studies suggest that school re-opening might have a small effect on wider transmission in the community, but this is not well understood.
Further studies are underway on the role of children in transmission in and outside of educational settings.
“WHO is collaborating with scientists around the world to develop protocols that countries can use to study COVID-19 transmission in educational institutions,” the agency added