What is not yet clear is whether children are infected as often as adults and if they often pass the infection on to others. Ultimately, he said, the decision to reopen schools must be based on the level of infection in each community.
“I hesitate to make general statements about whether or not it is a ‘safe’ appointment for children to return to school,” Fauci told CNN.
“When you talk about children going back to school and their safety, it really depends on the level of viral activity and the particular area that they are talking about. What happens too often, understandably, but sometimes misleadingly, is that we speak about the country as a whole in a one-dimensional way. ”
Fauci seemed to think that keeping schools closed in general was not necessary.
“Children can get infected, so yes, so you have to be careful,” Fauci said. “You have to be careful with them and you have to be careful that they don’t spread. Now, to make an extrapolation that you shouldn’t open schools, I think it’s a little difficult to achieve.”
Fauci said it is not premature to start the conversation about reopening schools now. “I think we need to discuss the pros and cons of bringing children back to school in September,” he said.
Stressing the importance of not generalizing, Fauci laid out the spectrum of scenarios for what a return to school might look like in the fall.
“In some situations there will be no problem getting children back to school,” he said. “In others, you may need to make some modifications. You know, the modifications could be disrupting class so you don’t have a crowded classroom, maybe half the morning, half the afternoon, having kids doing alternate schedules There are a lot of things one can do. “
Speaking specifically about classroom designs, Fauci stressed the need to “be creative” and create plans based on the degree of infection in the community.
He suggested that one option is to space children at any other desk, or at every third desk, to maintain adequate social distance.
Ongoing study on how Covid-19 affects children
Fauci said the same type of creativity should apply to the way students arrive and leave school.
As the conversation continues about how schools can safely reopen, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, launched a study last month to further examine how Covid-19 affects children .
The study will follow 6,000 people, both children and their families, chosen from 11 cities over the course of six months, for further clarification on whether children are less likely to contract coronavirus than adults.
“We don’t know for sure at the moment,” Fauci said.
Fauci said his team likely won’t see study results until December.