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Wired

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Jul 27, 2020
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Studies from around the world suggest that success depends on class size, distancing, the age of the students, and how prevalent the virus is locally.

As school officials try to figure out whether to open classrooms this fall, the science they need to make these tough choices is still evolving. A few things are clear: That most kids don’t become as seriously ill from Covid-19 as adults, and have much lower fatality rates. That’s according to data from the US and China published by the Centers for Disease Control.

But the question of how likely children are to spread it to teachers, staff and other students still hasn’t been settled. One large new study from South Korea found children under the age of 10 appear to not transmit the virus very well. While it's not exactly clear why, the pediatric infectious disease experts contacted by WIRED say that it's perhaps because young children expel less air that contains the virus and are shorter, so any potential respiratory droplets are less likely to reach adults. A study published in April by researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston suggests that younger kids haven’t developed the molecular keys that the virus exploits to enter the body and wreak havoc on the respiratory system, microscopic structures known as ACE2 receptors.

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