The rise comes as experts and health officials appear to diverge on how risky it is for children to gather in group settings like day care and school classrooms. The American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that students be “physically present” in schools, saying that the educational advantages outweigh health risks. The academy says it thinks three feet of social distancing is sufficient for classrooms and stated that “the relative impact of physical distancing among children is likely small based on current evidence and certainly difficult to implement.”But guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that day care center providers consider a minimum of six feet of social distancing and dismiss students and most staff for two to five days if they have a confirmed coronavirus case so public health authorities can assess the situation.
About 1.1 million Texas children were in state-licensed and registered home day care centers before COVID-19 struck. Several child care centers have closed during the pandemic, with others reporting a drop in the number of children attending.
A University of Vermont study has found that children contract COVID-19 “far less frequently” than adults and found it less likely to be spread among children. It concluded that “transmission in schools may be less important in community transmission than initially feared.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics, which is set to publish the study in its journal, reiterated this in its guidance for reopening schools, stating that unlike the flu, children do not seem to amplify the outbreak of COVID-19. Other experts have echoed these findings as well.
On Thursday, Texas published a new set of emergency rules for child care centers, reinstating safety mandates that had been repealed in mid-June. These include requiring child care centers to check temperatures of staff and students daily, having parents drop students off outside, and not serving family-style meals.
“Providers are required to follow state Minimum Standards to ensure the health and safety of children in care,” Texas Health and Human Services Commission spokesperson Danielle Pestrikoff said in an email. “HHSC has enacted emergency rules and they require operations to implement screening procedures that align with the CDC’s most recent guidance. We continue to advise child care operations to follow the guidance of the CDC and those laid out in Governor Abbott’s Open Texas Checklist.”
The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans – and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
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