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Child care centers don’t contribute to increasing coronavirus transmissions, Yale study says
According to the large national study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, child care centers don’t increase COVID-19 spread, even in places where total COVID-19 cases are high. Yale professor Walter Gilliam led the study.
“This is the largest study of COVID transmission in child care programs that’s been attempted in the U.S., and I think globally… These are very positive findings, and they should be very comforting.”Yale professor Walter Gilliam
The sizeable national study conducted from May to June surveyed at least 57,000 child care facilities in all 50 states, including Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. It aimed to compare coronavirus transmissions and hospitalizations among workers whose communities didn’t close during the pandemic and those whose jobs sites shut down.
According to Prof. Gilliam, there was no relationship between working in child care facilities and coronavirus contraction.
“Working at a child care center did not put these providers at any increased risk of COVID-19 than if they had stayed home.”Professor Walter Gilliam
Prof. Gilliam also said that adults are more likely to contract COVID-19 than children, which means that child care providers are a good measure for COVID-19 transmission rates in the child care sector. Additionally, other U.S. studies have shown that generally, schools aren’t COVID-19 hot spots.
“In influenza, we see that children are a main vector and schools are hot spots. What we’re trying to do is find out if it’s the same for COVID-19. And we’re seeing that they’re not.”Dr. Nava Yeganeh, pediatric infectious-disease specialist at the University of California
The study’s findings also observed low COVID infection and transmission rates found in 33,000 licensed child care facilities in California, with only 657 children and 1,000 providers contracting the virus.
However, it’s important to note that the findings should not be taken out of context. Prof. Gilliam told CNBC that it’s essential to remember when the results were collected. Since the study was conducted in May and June, safety protocols were still implemented, including stay-at-home orders.
Due to this, around 18% of child care facilities and 9% of in-home programs were shut down. Additionally, enrollment decreased by about 67%.
Labor advocates warned that since the Yale research was conducted, the majority of the cases have increased. Infections are growing daily, and industries are already reopening, making children more vulnerable than what findings state.
“We’re now in a very different time. The report expressly states, ‘communities may pose a considerable threat to child care when background transmission rates are high.”Lea Austin, director of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment
While these are beneficial findings, Austin said that government officials should still protect the welfare of child care services workers.
“These findings should make clear that policymakers and leaders are not absolved from protecting the health and safety of the people providing critical child care services. Rather, they have a responsibility to safeguard their well-being, especially that of educators of color and those working in communities with high infection rates.”Lea Austin