How to Reopen Schools: What Science and Other Countries Teach Us

In a single neighborhood in northern France, Crépy-en-Valois, two highschool academics turned unwell with Covid-19 in early February, earlier than colleges closed. Scientists from the Institut Pasteur later examined the college’s college students and workers for coronavirus antibodies. They discovered antibodies in 38 p.c of the scholars, 43 p.c of the academics, and 59 p.c of different faculty workers, stated Dr. Arnaud Fontanet, an epidemiologist on the institute who led the study and is a member of a committee advising the French authorities.

“Clearly you realize that the virus circulated in the highschool,” Dr. Fontanet stated.

Later, the staff examined college students and workers from six elementary schools in the neighborhood. The closure of colleges in mid-February offered a chance to see if youthful kids had turn out to be contaminated when colleges have been in session, the purpose when the virus struck highschool college students.

Researchers discovered antibodies in solely 9 p.c of elementary college students, 7 p.c of academics and four p.c of different workers. They recognized three college students in three completely different elementary colleges who had attended courses with acute coronavirus signs earlier than the faculties closed. None appeared to have contaminated different kids, academics or workers, Dr. Fontanet stated. Two of these symptomatic college students had siblings in the highschool and the third had a sister who labored in the highschool, he stated.

The analysis additionally indicated that when an elementary faculty pupil examined optimistic for coronavirus antibodies, there was a really excessive likelihood that the coed’s mother and father had additionally been contaminated, Dr. Fontanet stated. The likelihood was not almost as excessive for folks of highschool college students. “Once I have a look at the timing, we expect it began in the highschool, moved into the households after which to the younger college students,” he stated.

Dr. Fontanet stated that the findings counsel that older kids might be able to transmit the virus extra simply than youthful kids.

That sample may be mirrored by the expertise in Israel, the place one of many largest faculty outbreaks, involving about 175 college students and workers, occurred in Gymnasia Rehavia, a center and highschool in Jerusalem.

There are completely different theories about why older kids can be extra more likely to transmit the virus than youthful kids. Some scientists say that youthful kids are much less more likely to have Covid-19 signs like coughs and fewer more likely to have robust talking voices, each of which may transmit the virus in droplets. Different researchers are analyzing whether or not proteins that allow the virus to enter lung cells and replicate are much less ample in kids, limiting the severity of their an infection and probably their potential to transmit the virus.

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