700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Kids and COVID-19: Back to School During a Pandemic

Aug 25, 2020
Child sitting at desk with face covering

Getting ready for “back to school” season during a global pandemic is like riding a rollercoaster with no idea where the track goes. It seems like plans are constantly changing, and many families are making some hard decisions about what school will look like for them this year.

Additionally, you have probably been hearing a lot of different information about how COVID-19 affects children. While more research is still needed to better understand COVID-19 in children and adolescents, a couple of recent studies offer some helpful insights. Below are a few important things to keep in mind as we head toward the school year.

Kids Do Get Sick From COVID-19

According to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA), from the onset of the pandemic to July 30, nearly 340,000 children tested positive for COVID-19. That’s about 8.8% of all COVID-19 cases in the United States.

Kids Can Transmit COVID-19

A new study published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, found that children between the ages to 10 and 19 years can spread COVID-19 within a household similarly to how adults spread the virus.

In a small study published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers found that children younger than 5 years have between 10 and 100 times more viral genetic material in their noses compared to older children and adults. While this study shows that children can have a lot of the virus present in their noses, it importantly did not address if kids transmitted the virus more than other age groups.

COVID-19 Is Usually Mild to Moderate in Kids

Children who get COVID-19 often have less severe symptoms than adults do. According to the AAP, 45 children under the age 15 years have died from COVID-19 in the United States (compared to 25,000 deaths of people between the ages of 45 and 64).

But COVID-19 Can Be Severe in Some Kids

Children can develop severe COVID-19 illness. According to a recent report from the CDC based on an observational study of 576 pediatric COVID-19-associated hospitalizations, one in three children hospitalized for COVID-19 were admitted to the intensive care unit. Hispanic and Black children had the highest rates of COVID-19–associated hospitalization.

COVID-19 Prevention Is Important for Kids

The decreased severity of COVD-19 in children has caused many people to assume that children are more immune to the virus. But as schools look at reopening, it is important to remember that the latest research shows that children and young adults can get and spread COVID-19.

Masking, frequent handwashing, social distancing and symptom monitoring should be an important part of every back to school plan, according to the AAP and CHA.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Information for Patient Families
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Featured Expert

Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
Matthew Washam, MD, MPH
Infectious Diseases
Nationwide Children's Hospital Medical Professional
William W. Long, MD
General Pediatrics

Dr. Long is a graduate of West Virginia University School of Medicine and completed his residency at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH, where he also served as chief resident.

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Pediatric News You Can Use From America’s Largest Pediatric Hospital and Research Center

700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.