Most Child Care Programs Safe From SARS-CoV-2
New research indicates child care workers did not have increased odds of contracting SARS-CoV-2 during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to an American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) press statement on October 13, 2020, researchers from Yale University surveyed more than 57,000 U.S. child care providers in late May and early June, asking whether programs stayed open, what safety measures the program put in place and what precautions staff took in their personal lives.
Just under half of the child care programs stayed open or re-opened after a brief closure. And, suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 led to closures of about 9 percent of those, according to “COVID-19 Transmission in US Child Care Programs,” study.
The surveys also showed that of the child care programs that continued to operate, 90 percent or more reported staff and children washed their hands frequently and indoor surfaces were disinfected daily.
More than half disinfected indoor surfaces 3x a day.
Most programs performed daily symptom screenings and temperature checks of children and staff and practiced social distancing. Just over half kept children in cohorts that did not mix.
However, daily face mask-wearing was only 12 percent for children ages 2 and older and 35 percent for staff.
Moreover, there were 427 child care providers, out of about 57,000, who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.
These researchers stated there was ‘no association between contracting the virus and exposure to child care.’
“None of these covariates, however, interacted with exposure to child care, suggesting a lack of association between child care exposure and COVID-19 outcome regardless of these other factors,” the study authors wrote.
One factor that did play an important role was the level of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the community.
“Even after adjusting for other variables, community-level transmission remained a significant predictor of child care providers testing positive or being hospitalized for COVID-19, highlighting the importance of reopening child care programs only when background transmission rates are low and decreasing,” authors wrote.
They could not say for certain whether their findings would have been different if so many child care programs hadn’t been taking precautions to minimize the spread of the virus. And the study also did not look at transmission between children or from adults to children.
“Furthermore, protective measures against COVID-19 in child care centers are needed as the spread of COVID-19 from child care workers to children may lead to children’s family members, including those most vulnerable to the virus (e.g. the elderly and individuals with underlying medical conditions), contracting COVID-19 from their children or grandchildren,” they wrote.
The study authors cautioned the results cannot be applied to schools or universities.
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