A national study by Yale University researchers found that in the early months of the pandemic, child care workers did not have increased odds of contracting COVID-19.
“Working at a child care center did not put these providers at any increased risk of COVID-19 than if they had stayed home,” Walter Gilliam, who led the study, told the Los Angeles Times.
Over half of the surveyed child care programs disinfected indoor surfaces three times a day and most implemented daily symptom screenings and temperature checks and social distancing. Nearly all reported frequent hand washing and that indoor surfaces were disinfected daily.
Though the CDC recommends children age 2 and up wear masks, daily face mask wearing was logged at 12 percent. For staff, the rate was 35 percent. This study recommended child care workers wear face coverings.
“Protective measures against COVID-19 in child care centers are needed as the spread of COVID-19 from child care workers to children may lead to children’s family members, including those most vulnerable to the virus, contracting COVID-19 from their children or grandchildren,” the researchers wrote.
Moving forward with caution
The study explained that child care programs should only reopen when background transmission rates are low and decreasing. They found community-level transmission to be a significant predictor of child care providers testing positive or being hospitalized for the virus.
Though this study surveyed an environment of mostly children, researchers cautioned that the results could not be applied to K-12 schools, as well as universities.
Children are able to contract COVID-19 and represent about 10 percent of cases in the U.S. While children usually don’t get as sick as adults, babies under age 1 are at higher risk of severe illness than older children, likely because of their immature immune system and smaller airways.