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Day-Care Centers Are Very Low Risk for Covid-19 Transmission, Yale Study Says

Paper adds new evidence that young children aren’t major vectors in coronavirus transmission

Most child-care centers have observed sanitary guidelines, responses in the study indicated. THE WALL STREET JOURNAL Appeared in the October 15, 2020, print edition By Robbie Whelan

Children in day-care programs present virtually no risk of transmitting Covid-19 to adults, according to a new Yale University study of more than 57,000 U.S. child-care providers. The study, believed to be the largest of its kind, indicated that keeping child-care centers open doesn’t contribute to transmission of the disease caused by the new coronavirus, as long as they hew to sanitary guidelines.

The research has broad implications for the U.S. economy, parents who depend on day-care centers and child-care workers. More than a third of child-care centers in the country closed between March and July, according to Child Care Aware, an advocacy group. A June survey by the National Association for the Education of Young Children found that child-care center enrollment fell by 33% nationwide and that 70% of providers reported that parents told them they weren’t comfortable sending kids back to day care.

"For parents, . . .worried about their particular child," said Dr. Walter Gilliam, a child psychologist at Yale and lead author of the study, published October 14, 2020 in the journal Pediatrics. "But it’s clear that child care doesn’t pose a threat to communities."

Risk of infection for child-care professionals appears to be comparable with that for the broader population.

"It doesn’t appear that working in child care leads to the spread of Covid-19," Dr. Gilliam said. The paper adds to growing research showing that young children aren’t major vectors in Covid-19 transmission, said Dr. Kristin Moffitt, a physician at Boston Children’s Hospital and professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

"You would think that day cares would be hotbeds, but they’re not, and this study is consistent with that,” Dr. Moffitt said. “The younger the age of the population, the less they seem to be contributing to transmission."

The Yale study "provides a very important window into a crucial topic" and was conducted with a solid methodology, said Renee Boynton-Jarrett, a professor of pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine. Both Drs. Moffitt and Boynton-Jarrett read prepublication copies of the study, though neither was involved with its peer-review process.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 296 American children under the age of 14 had died from the infection through Oct. 7, or 0.14% of total U.S. deaths.


Did You Know. . .

  • KidsFirst has an "open door policy." This means parents can visit or call anytime, without notice.
  • KidsFirst play areas have cushioned floors and walls to avoid fall injuries and encourage first steps.
  • All KidsFirst babies – to 18 months – have their own cribs with their names; cribs are never shared.

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