A new study published this week in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, found that working in childcare has no elevated risk in spreading COVID-19 from children to adults. A group of Yale University researchers found that childcare programs and daycare centers that remained open during the pandemic did not contribute to the spread of the virus to providers.
“No differences in COVID-19 outcomes were observed between workers who continued to provide in-person care for young children and those who did not,” said the study authors.
The study was the largest of its kind during the pandemic. Researchers surveyed 57,000 child care providers across all 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. “In May and June 2020, researchers compared self-reported COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations among workers whose programs stayed open and those whose programs closed,” said a press release about the study.
It’s important to note that there was no elevated risk of COVID-19 spread when the programs took multiple safety measures including disinfecting, handwashing, symptom screening, social distancing, mask-wearing and limiting group size. There was less risk in communities where the spread of COVID-19 was contained.
With many parents unable to work due to schools and daycares being closed during the coronavirus outbreak, this new data shows that child care programs can openly safely, provided they follow all the rules for keeping children and employees safe.
“Until now, decision makers had no way to assess whether opening child care centers would put staff at greater risk of contracting COVID-19,” said Walter Gilliam of the Yale University Child Study Center and the study’s lead author. “This study tells us that as long as there are strong on-site measures to prevent infection, providing care for young children doesn’t seem to add to the provider’s risk of getting sick.”
This doesn’t mean that no child care providers got coronavirus – those providers who are Black, Latino and Native American contracted COVID-19 at a higher rate and were more likely to be hospitalized due to it.
“While plenty of U.S. child care workers contracted COVID-19 in May and June, it wasn’t driven by whether they were working with children or not,” said Dr. Gilliam.