Dr. Anthony Fauci has always been an advocate regarding the importance of in-school learning. However, that doesn't necessarily mean he believes that you should send your children back to school this fall. During a live episode of the podcast Healthy You: Surviving a Pandemic, hosted by George Washington University, the country's go-to infectious disease expert warns that some schools might be the perfect setting for a coronavirus outbreak.
"You've Got to Look at Extenuating Circumstances"
"You really want to think twice before you get the children back to school," he admitted. "I don't think there should be an all or none—all the kids go back or all the kids stay locked in. You've got to look at extenuating circumstances and you've got to look at the location where the school is."
Before sending your children back into the classroom, "you've got to look at what's going on in the community," he points out. "If you are in a green zone where you have literally less than 10 per a hundred thousand population, then you could probably open the schools with a considerable degree of impunity. When you get to a yellow zone that has 10 to a hundred cases per a hundred thousand, with this virus in the community, you might want to modify the things," he says, suggesting physical separation, mask wearing, outdoor classes, and hybrids of in-person and online learning.
When you get to the red zone—over a hundred cases per hundred thousand and viral activity is high—that's when you should rethink in person-learning. "
After all, he points out that children aren't immune to the virus. "We should not neglect the fact that children, some can get seriously ill," he continued, explaining that one of the concerning manifestations of the virus in younger people is multi inflammatory syndrome. "We don't know the extent of that," he added. "It seems to be unusual, but we don't know the full extent, but the issue is we're starting to learn a lot about children getting infected. They clearly do. And there've been some studies to show that children from 10 to 19 can transmit to adults as easily as adults transmit to them."
COVID-19 Can Strike Very Young Children
He also touched upon the fact that "even very young children have a high degree of virus," and that we still don't understand the extent of their ability to spread the virus. However, he believes we will have a better idea in the "coming weeks and months," as children head back to school.
The reopening of colleges and universities is a completely different ballgame. "It's a big, big difference," Fauci admitted. "People are coming from all over the country. You might be having people coming from red zones, yellow zones and green zones. It really varies."
In order to successfully reopen schools with young adults, a number of proactive measures would need to be taken, including testing everyone before coming in, doing intermittent surveillance testing, and having the capability of identifying, isolating and contact tracing.
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Mask up, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 37 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.