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Open Access An Evidence Base for School Health Policy during the COVID-19 Pandemic

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND licence.

Objective: Children represent a small fraction of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with a low case fatality rate (CFR). In this paper, we lay out an evidence-based policy for reopening schools. Methods: We gathered age-specific COVID-19 case counts and identified mortality data for 14 countries. Dose-response meta-analysis was used to examine the relationship of the incremental case fatality rate (CFR) to age. In addition, an evidence-to-decision framework (EtD) was used to correlate the dose-response data with other epidemiological characteristics of COVID-19 in childhood. Results: In the dose-response analysis, we found that there was an almost negligible fatality below age 18. CFR rose little between ages 5 to 50 years. The confidence intervals were narrow, suggesting relative homogeneity across countries. Further data suggested decreased child-hood transmission from respiratory droplets and a low viral load among children. Conclusions: Opening up schools and kindergartens is unlikely to impact COVID-19 case or mortality rates in both the child and adult populations. We outline a robust plan for schools that recommends that general principles not be micromanaged, with authority left to schools and monitored by public health authorities.

Keywords: ADOLESCENT HEALTH; CHILD &; CHILD TRANSMISSION; COMMUNICABLE DISEASE; CORONAVIRUS; COVID-19; SARS-COV-2; SCHOOL REOPENING POLICY

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2021

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  • Health Behavior and Policy Review is a rigorously peer-reviewed scholarly bi-monthly publication that seeks manuscripts on health behavior or policy topics that represent original research, including papers that examine the development, advocacy, implementation, or evaluation of policies around specific health issues. The Review especially welcomes papers that tie together health behavior and policy recommendations. Articles are available through subscription or can be ordered individually from the Health Behavior and Policy Review site.
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