Study reveals surprising findings about COVID and child care centers

Ready for some good news about the pandemic? Because as it turns out, there actually is such a thing. A study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that there was not a heightened risk of COVID-19 infection among childcare workers compared to adults in other lines of work. Yale University researchers analyzed the rate of infection and social distance practicing behavior of more than 57,000 workers serving approximately 4 million children in daycare and other child care facilities in May and June of this year, in the United States including Puerto Rico, and found that working with children did not increase these workers' likelihood of infection. 

"This is the largest study of COVID transmission in child care programs that's been attempted in the U.S., and I think globally," Yale professor Walter Gilliam, who led a team of researchers in the study, told The Los Angeles Times. "These are very positive findings, and they should be very comforting."

Childcare facilities cleaned frequently and enforced social distancing

The Yale researchers analyzed what efforts the childcare facilities took to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and found that the majority of centers followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for hygiene and social distancing, with the exception of mask use for small children. Most programs performed daily health screenings including temperature checks, and 90 percent of centers reported frequently disinfecting surfaces and enforcing handwashing protocols among both the children and the workers. About 9 percent of the schools temporarily closed due to a coronavirus case, the study noted.

According to Gillam, it was likely because of this rigorous adherence to safety protocols that the childcare centers did not become hot spots of infection. "These childcare providers were doing nearly Herculean levels of effort to keep their children safe," Gilliam said (per Insider). "If we can't continue to support their ability to do that, especially as we try to open up more of these programs, there's no guarantee that they can continue to keep children safe."

Dr. Kristin Moffitt, a physician at Boston Children's Hospital and professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, said that this study provided a ray of hope to parents of small children who are concerned about sending their little ones back to daycare. "You would think that day cares would be hotbeds, but they're not, and this study is consistent with that," Dr. Moffitt told The Wall Street Journal.