Risk ranking of back-to-school activities

Millions of children are back to school. The final challenge they face, avoiding getting sick with the delta variant of COVID-19. The number of children hospitalized across the country is at its highest level for more than a year. Moms and dads reached out to us, worried about sending their kids back to school for in-person learning. We posted a poll, asking you which areas are you most nervous about? We then asked our medical expert, Dr Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, to rank the risk of each stain. Waking up with a cough and runny nose: High risk. If your child wakes up with any of the symptoms of COVID-19 or the flu, Dr Adalja says the risk of transmission may be high, especially for unvaccinated children. Parents should have their child tested immediately either at the doctor’s office or using a home test. Even if it is negative, it is best to keep your child at home to prevent them from spreading any other type of virus. In the school bus: Low risk. In our survey, just over 25% of you were worried about the school bus. With the windows and door open, good ventilation decreases the risk of COVID-19. Many school bus companies and districts have made masks mandatory, socially estranged children sitting on the bus, require drivers to disinfect their buses between routes, and make hand sanitizer available to all children. Gym classes: Medium risk. Since children exercise, breathe heavily, and emit more sputum particles from their mouths; the risk of transmission is higher. Especially if the masks are not worn. This risk can be mitigated by opening the windows and doors of the gymnasium or by organizing gymnastics classes outside. Class without masks: Medium risk. In our survey, almost 25% of you say you are concerned about the classroom. Children sitting in a classroom for hours on end means there is an average risk of transmission. Opening windows, positioning desks 6 feet apart, wearing masks, and having a teacher vaccinated will reduce the risk. Classroom with masks: Low risk. Dr Adalja says there is data showing that schooling could be conducted safely with masks and social distancing and that was the case even before vaccines were available. He says transmission was not driven by classrooms but by sports and extracurricular activities in the pre-vaccine era. Lunch in the cafeteria: Medium risk. This is the area that concerned nearly half of you when we looked at our survey results. When the children eat, the masks come off. This risk can be mitigated by opening the windows for better ventilation of the cafeteria. Children also need to be socially distanced and sit with their classes to reduce transmission. Outdoor sports / extracurricular activities: low risk. We know that outside transmission is not a major way of spreading the virus. Dr Adalja says schools should follow this and move indoor activities to the outdoors, which decreases risk and decreases reliance on masks. Morning carpooling: Medium risk. If several families participate in carpooling, the risk is medium. The risk can be reduced if you create a carpooling group with just one other family. Medical experts are advising these adults to get vaccinated, everyone in the carpool should wear masks, and windows should be down. Recreation: Low risk. Transmission outdoors is not a major way of spreading the virus, so children in the playground and running outdoors are generally safe.

Millions of children are back to school. The final challenge they face, avoiding getting sick with the delta variant of COVID-19.

The number of children hospitalized across the country is at its highest level for more than a year. Moms and dads reached out to us, worried about sending their kids back to school for in-person learning. We posted a poll, asking you which areas are you most nervous about? We then asked our medical expert, Dr Amesh Adalja of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, to rank the risk of each stain.

Waking up with a cough and runny nose: High risk. If your child wakes up with any of the symptoms of COVID-19 or the flu, Dr Adalja says the risk of transmission may be high, especially for unvaccinated children. Parents should have their child tested immediately either at the doctor’s office or using a home test. Even if it is negative, it is best to keep your child at home to prevent them from spreading any other type of virus.

In the school bus: Low risk. In our survey, just over 25% of you were worried about the school bus. With the windows and door open, good ventilation decreases the risk of COVID-19. Many school bus companies and districts have made masks mandatory, socially estranged children sitting on the bus, require drivers to disinfect their buses between routes, and make hand sanitizer available to all children.

Gym classes: Medium risk. Since children exercise, breathe heavily, and emit more sputum particles from their mouths; the risk of transmission is higher. Especially if the masks are not worn. This risk can be mitigated by opening the windows and doors of the gymnasium or by organizing gymnastics classes outside.

Class without masks: Medium risk. In our survey, almost 25% of you say you are concerned about the classroom. Children sitting in a classroom for hours on end means there is an average risk of transmission. Opening windows, positioning desks 6 feet apart, wearing masks, and having a teacher vaccinated will reduce the risk.

Classroom with masks: Low risk. Dr Adalja says there is data showing that schooling could be conducted safely with masks and social distancing and that was the case even before vaccines were available. He says transmission was not driven by classrooms but by sports and extracurricular activities in the pre-vaccine era.

Lunch in the cafeteria: Medium risk. This is the area that concerned nearly half of you when we looked at our survey results. When the children eat, the masks come off. This risk can be mitigated by opening the windows for better ventilation of the cafeteria. Children also need to be socially distanced and sit with their classes to reduce transmission.

Outdoor sports / extracurricular activities: low risk. We know that outside transmission is not a major way of spreading the virus. Dr Adalja says schools should follow this and move indoor activities to the outdoors, which decreases risk and decreases reliance on masks.

Morning carpooling: Medium risk. If several families participate in carpooling, the risk is medium. The risk can be reduced if you create a carpooling group with just one other family. Medical experts are advising these adults to get vaccinated, everyone in the carpool should wear masks, and windows should be down.

Recreation: Low risk. Transmission outdoors is not a major way of spreading the virus, so children in the playground and running outdoors are generally safe.


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