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CDC Issues Call to Reopen America's Schools This Fall

Agency says COVID-19-related health risks to children are minimal compared with those faced by adults

child wearing mask boarding school bus

FRIDAY, July 24, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a document supporting a reopening of the nation's schools this fall.

According to the CDC, just 7 percent of U.S. COVID-19 cases, and less than 0.1 percent of related deaths have occurred in people younger than 18 years. And so far in 2020, fewer children have died from COVID-19 than typically die from the flu in a given year. Children also appear to transmit the new coronavirus at a lower rate than adults, the CDC said. And as for potential transmission from children to adults, "there have also been few reports of children being the primary source of COVID-19 transmission among family members," the CDC said. "This is consistent with data from both virus and antibody testing, suggesting that children are not the primary drivers of COVID-19 spread in schools or in the community."

As to the benefits of reopening classrooms, "the harms attributed to closed schools on the social, emotional, and behavioral health, economic well-being, and academic achievement of children, in both the short- and long-term, are well-known and significant," the CDC said. School closure and extended home quarantine are even being linked to higher rates of mental health issues in children, including posttraumatic stress disorder, the CDC said. Children also exercise less when kept at home, the agency said, and millions may eat fewer healthy foods, because they are missing out on school lunch programs.

"Reopening schools creates opportunity to invest in the education, well-being, and future of one of America's greatest assets -- our children -- while taking every precaution to protect students, teachers, staff, and all their families," according to the CDC.

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