(Bloomberg) – The return to face-to-face classes in nearly two-thirds of the U.S. has not led to a wave of community outbreaks, federal scientists said in a study of 2.87 million cases among children under 24.
Disease rates in counties where face-to-face learning is available to school-age children and adolescents are similar to areas where classes are entirely online, according to a report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It concludes that schools should be the last to close and the first to reopen.
Meanwhile, young adults aged 18 to 24, who led the country in infections during the summer and fall, may have contributed more to transmission in the community, the agency said in its Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report.
“The CDC recommends that K-12 schools be the last configurations to be closed after all other mitigation measures have been employed and the first to reopen when they can safely do so,” according to the report.
The scientists also noted that the transmission of Covid-19 in children associated with the reopening of nurseries and primary schools “may be less than the reopening of schools and institutions of higher education”.
The only way to safely launch face-to-face learning is for the community at large to strictly follow social distance measures, particularly measures such as wearing masks, which will reduce the risk for children and older residents, the agency said.
The report offered no insight into the risks for teachers and school staff, as there is no information collected across the country about their infection rates.
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