Coronavirus spread at schools has been one of the primary concerns for parents and caregivers since a number of countries have resumed in-person classes. While health organizations have suggested several ways to make children follow coronavirus guidelines, it is argued that very young children such as those between the ages of four to six are often unable to take preventive measures throughout the day.
In addition, children may also be very difficult to control especially during the time between classes or lunch break. As a result, there is a higher risk of contracting the virus in schools not only for kids but also for other staff including teachers.
Due to the spread of the infections in the school, kids may also bring the virus home and transmit it further to their families or other people they come into contact with. These are some of the biggest concerns regarding reopening schools during the pandemic. However, children may not be as bad at following guidelines.
According to a study published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, children as young as four can also follow some of the fundamental guidelines for the prevention of coronavirus infection such as social distancing.
By using the structured expert judgment method, the researchers found that fifty to sixty percent of the children had decreased in-person contacts after changes for controlling the coronavirus infection have been introduced in schools.
In their paper, ‘in-person contact’ was used for interactions within 3.3 feet or one meter for a period of five minutes or below. Such interactions between the teachers and students had reduced by five times since the start of the pandemic.
On the other hand, children between the ages of ten to eleven had a sixty-three percent reduction in interactions with each other. For younger children between the ages of four to six, the contact also decreased by fifty-three percent.
These findings show that even very young kids are able to stick to precautions. At the same time, it should also be noted that they do not conclude that reopening schools would not contribute to COVID-19 transmission among teachers and students.
While the authors of the paper agree that children are able to understand the importance of following preventive guidelines, the strictness of the social distancing measures at schools may still not be enough to control any kind of transmission completely.
Additionally, the policies would not be as strict as those imposed during last year and they would also not be followed in a strict manner. People, in general, are not taking guidelines as seriously throughout the world now and schools are no exception to pandemic fatigue.
The most important finding of the study, therefore, was that discussing guidelines for prevention and their significance for the coronavirus pandemic does make a big difference.
For parents who are worried about their children’s safety at schools, make sure to talk to them before the beginning of classes in detail. Remember that kids tend to follow by example. If every person takes preventive measures seriously, children will automatically follow them also.