With school back in session after the holiday break, the debate of whether or not it's safe to go back to in-person learning continues.
One study in Mississippi suggested that classrooms don't pose as big of a risk in spreading the virus as previously thought.
The study, led by the University of Mississippi Medical Center, in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that children are more likely to be infected by a family member who hasn’t taken proper precautions rather than at school.
The findings indicate that children are more likely to contract the virus at a holiday party, family gathering, or from parents who don’t wear face masks instead of the classroom.
Dr. Charlotte Hobbs, a mother and professor of pediatric infectious diseases, led the study and explained that this is because children have a lower rate of infection and transmission.
For this reason, transmission in children is also studied less.
“This echoes what we’ve seen in adult studies with household transmission,” Hobbs added.
In the study, Hobbs found that proper safety measures make a significant difference.
In fact, children who attended school or daycare and tested positive were more likely to report other kids and staff not taking proper measures such as masking, social distancing, or hand washing.
“If at school appropriate mitigation efforts are being [observed], being at school is actually in fact perhaps much lower of a place where a child would have the risk of contracting COVID as opposed to having contact with an adult who is infected,” Hobbs said.
Researchers interviewed about 400 parents in the study and pulled a list of children who took the COVID-19 test.
Hobbs emphasized that parents and schools should not let their guard down despite the availability of a vaccine as it is not approved for anyone under 16.
In July, the CDC released new guidelines that are in favor of reopening education and child care centers.
“It is critically important for our public health to open schools this fall,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield.
“I know this has been a difficult time for our Nation’s families. School closures have disrupted normal ways of life for children and parents, and they have had negative health consequences on our youth. CDC is prepared to work with K-12 schools to safely reopen while protecting the most vulnerable,” he added.