Jul 18, 2020 - Health

Study: Middle, high schoolers can spread coronavirus as well as adults

Graduating seniors in Jefferson Township, Pennsylvania.
Graduating seniors on July 17 in Jefferson Township, Pennsylvania. Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Children between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread the coronavirus at least as effectively as adults do, according to a recently published study out of South Korea.

Why it matters: The findings come amid a heated global debate on reopening schools as the coronavirus pandemic wears on. Experts warn that if schools resume this fall, communities could see clusters of the infection emerge that include children of all ages, citing the study findings.

How it works: South Korean researchers identified 5,706 people who first reported coronavirus symptoms in their households between Jan. 20 and March 27, when schools in the country were closed, according to the New York Times.

  • They traced 59,073 contacts from the original cases.

The researchers found that children in middle and high school were just as likely to infect others as adults.

  • Children younger than 10 years old were around half as likely as adults to spread the virus.

Yes, but: Researchers only traced children who felt sick. The transmission rates for asymptomatic cases remains unknown, and children are less likely than adults to develop symptoms.

The big picture: Several major schools systems in the U.S. have postponed in-person classes for the fall, including in Los Angeles, San Diego and New York City.

  • 71% of U.S. parents surveyed in a recent Axios-Ipsos poll said it would be risky to send their children back to school in the fall, including a slim majority of Republicans and a staggering nine in 10 Black Americans, Axios' Margaret Talev reports.

Read the study.

Go deeper