Children under the age of 12 are much less likely than teenagers to contract the coronavirus, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published on Monday. The study adds nuance to prior findings that the risk of contracting and dying of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, increases with age. The reasons for the correlation are not yet entirely understood.
The new study also found that Hispanic children were hit hardest by the coronavirus, composing 42 percent of all cases for which ethnic data was available. That highlighted another uncomfortable truth about the pandemic: People of color have been disproportionately affected by both its medical and economic ravages. The new study does, however, appear to bolster the arguments of those who say that children should return to school instead of continuing with what has been, according to many accounts, a disastrous national experiment in distance learning. New York City has returned some children to school buildings and is expected to ramp up in-person instruction by the end of the week.
Officials in Washington, D. C. — where the president has been loudly calling for schools to reopen — have also told principals to prepare for reopening school doors in November.
CDC researchers analyzed data from early March, when schools across the country began to shut down, to mid-September, by which time many states had opened schools either partially or fully for in-person instruction. The researchers found that of the roughly 280, 000 children who tested positive for COVID-19 during that time, 63 percent were between the ages of 12 and 17. Thirty-seven percent were ages 5 to 11. “Incidence among adolescents was approximately double that among young children, ” the study concludes. That seems to bolster the case for in-person instruction for elementary schoolchildren, who appear to struggle the most with computer-based remote learning. High school students, who are better equipped to utilize online learning platforms and less likely to require adult supervision, could presumably delay returning to classrooms longer because they are at a higher risk of becoming ill.
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