Coronavirus pandemic has been scary for everyone, but people with young children or elderly parents have been extra worried.
The research related to the elderly is pretty straightforward since older people have many other ailments, COVID-19 infection may exacerbate them. But there hasn’t been much information about its effect on children.
Because of this, most parents are keeping their children as secure as possible, in closed quarters. Day-care facilities, an essential need for working parents, have been abandoned. Now, the US restrictions are being loosened gradually, reopening schools and other such institutions. But some parents are still sceptic about sending back their children where they will be exposed to large groups. The scare is amplified due to a lack of data surrounding how the disease could spread among children. Finally, there are some answers to ease the parent’s worries.
A study has revealed that child-care centres with children 6 and under were not associated with a higher COVID-19 risk among the staff who watched them all day. The study was published in the journal Paediatrics. However, correlation isn’t causation. This does not mean that children will not be susceptible to the virus at all. As with almost everything in the “new normal”, the virus will have a presence everywhere. Researchers have not studied how the virus could spread among the children or whether they can bring it back home with them. But it is still a useful study in assessing the child-care situation during this pandemic.
The lead author of the study is author Walter Gilliam from the Yale University Child Study Centre in Connecticut. He revealed in a statement that this study is not a comprehensive answer whether such centres should be opened or not. However, a community spread level matters and needs to be studied.
“But our study does offer solid evidence that, under certain conditions, it’s possible to open childcare programs without putting staff in harm’s way,” he said. The study had a fairly large sample size. Between May and June, Gilliam and his team surveyed around 57,000 childcare centres in 50 states of the USA. Their research questions included inquiries about any known staff members who had been hospitalized or contacted COVID-19. The sample had centres that remained closed as well as those open.
Their comparative study revealed that open centres did not pose any additional risk to the child- care providers. From this, it can be inferred that children were not transmitting the virus to their caretakers.
However, there were many reported cases during the study as well. Race seemed to play a role in the infection with a higher number of Native American, Latino, and Black providers contracting COVID. They also found that places with higher community spread made the childcare providers more susceptible to infection.
American Academy of Paediatrics has a set of guidelines that these centres followed almost religiously, the study found. These rules aim to minimise the chances of spread from children to caretakers or among themselves. Distancing, washing hands, sanitising surfaces are some of the measures followed by the centres under the survey.
“This study tells us that as long as there are strong on-site measures to prevent infection, providing care for young children doesn’t seem to add to the provider’s risk of getting sick,” Gilliam said.