Will School Shutdowns Reduce the Risk of COVID-19?
While schooling overall has been hit with major changes due to COVID-19 recent evidence across Europe shows that kids are playing a part in the spread of the virus.
Since the heightened number of cases most of Europe has adopted the strictest level of health measures,one of those being shutting down schools. While there is still no clear answer on whether the closure of schools will stop the spread of the virus, the World Health Organization has laid out guidance on how to help minimize the spread.
By laying out specific pros and cons WHO has been trying to address many questions from concerned parents, teachers and administration. The website that has been made available provides a checklist for students, parents, caregivers and community members.
Although WHO’s studies have leaned more in favor of children, a study by the Swiss Federal Institution of Technology showed that school closures accounted for a decrease of 21.6% in the spread of the virus. With school closures listed as their third most effective way, COVID-19 has had various negative impacts on children specifically. Among those include: setbacks to children’s education, problems with development and even excess weight gain.
While WHO has shown that children under 18 only represent 5.8% of reported cases, the European Center for Disease and Prevention Control also reported that many children who become infected remain asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. The ECDC has also provided guidelines for schools to follow in order to stay open, ensuring that children are a factor in the spread. The recommendations listed are: “physical distancing, improved ventilation, regular hand-washing, proper respiratory etiquette, and the use of masks when feasible.”
It is still unclear how long schools will need to remain closed, and when or if, schools will be able to reopen.