Education

Child COVID-19 Cases, School Outbreaks Spike in Run-up to Fall

By Sarah D. Sparks — August 12, 2020 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In the last few days, school districts in Georgia and Indiana have been forced to quarantine more than 1,000 students following outbreaks of the novel coronavirus, and a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests this may be only the beginning as schools begin to reopen amid high community infection levels of the virus that causes COVID-19.

The AAP and the Children’s Hospital Association analyzed data on COVID-19 infection rates in 49 states, New York City, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam. They found that of the more than 380,000 total COVID-19 cases reported so far among children, nearly 180,000 have been reported from July 9 to August 9—a 90 percent jump within a month. That represents an infection rate of 501 for every 100,000 children.

In more than half of states, at least 1 in 10 people with COVID-19 is a child or adolescent.

These results come with some big provisos. For one thing, children still only made up 3 percent to 12 percent of all those tested for COVID-19 in the states. That may help to explain why children accounted for only 2 percent of all COVID-19 cases in April, but 7 percent by the start of July and more than 9 percent of all cases now.

And states are nowhere near on the same page with how they define and collect data on child infection rates. While a majority of states consider those 18 and under as “children,” Utah and Florida count only those ages 14 and younger, while Alabama counts those up to 24. Moreover, Texas only has age information for about 8 percent of its cases, and New York only includes age for cases in the Big Apple. Both California and Florida have had testing problems, due to computer issues in the Golden State and hurricanes in the Sunshine State.

Uncertainty Over Child Infectiousness

In Georgia, where more than 900 students were sent into quarantine this week after a coronavirus outbreak in Cherokee County school district, the state health department reports that older adolescents and college-age students had the highest cumulative number of cases, but middle and high school students had nearly as many total positive cases of COVID-19 as 70-somethings, as the chart below shows:

Yet, in Georgia and nationwide, K-12 and college-age students are the least likely age groups to experience severe symptoms from the disease, including hospitalizations and deaths. The AAP found that even as the percentage of child coronavirus cases rose from spring to summer, the percentage of child COVID-19 cases that led to death fell, from .06 percent in May to .02 percent in August. Only 1.6 percent of all child coronavirus cases required hospitalization.

Of course, child infection and illness isn’t the only calculation for school reopening, particularly when a third or more of teachers fall in higher-risk groups for coronavirus infections. Evidence has been mixed about how easily children can transfer the disease, though recent studies have suggested high school-age students may be more likely to pass along the virus than elementary-age students.

Chart Source: Georgia Department of Health

See Also:

Related Tags:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP
Education Massachusetts National Guard to Help With Busing Students to School
250 guard personnel will be available to serve as drivers of school transport vans, as districts nationwide struggle to hire enough drivers.
1 min read
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass. Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, activated the state's National Guard to help with busing students to school as districts across the country struggle to hire enough drivers.
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Education FDA: ‘Very, Very Hopeful’ COVID Shots Will Be Ready for Younger Kids This Year
Dr. Peter Marks said he is hopeful that COVID-19 vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will be underway by year’s end. Maybe sooner.
4 min read
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021. On Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, Marks urged parents to be patient, saying the agency will rapidly evaluate vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds as soon as it gets the needed data.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021.
Jim Lo Scalzo/AP