SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Will children spread COVID-19 when they go back to school? If a student becomes infected, will the virus jump to classmates? Will the virus find its way to the child’s teacher or be passed along to parents? These are questions some Utah teachers are asking.
“Those germs are going to be there. Elementary school kids cough in your face, and they say they’re sorry. They don’t mean to, you know, they can’t help it. They touch each other. That’s what they do. That’s their age. And so I’m highly concerned that there’s no way to properly make sure that they’re safe in my classroom,” said a Utah teacher, who agreed to speak to ABC4 News if we concealed their identity.
According to Coronavirus.Utah.Gov, children less than one-year-old accounted for 160 cases, and children 1 to 14 account for 2,308 of Utah’s 34,526 COVID-19 case count as of Monday.
Tom Hudachko, Director of Communication for the Utah Department of Health, said it is possible numbers for these particular age groups could rise in the Fall.
“Schools, of course, are the perfect type of setting for viruses to spread. You’ve got kids who are sitting in close contact with one another, they’re in an indoor setting where there’s potentially not as good of airflow as you would have in an outdoor setting. It’s certainly an environment that could lend itself to the spread of virus.”
Back in March, Doctor Andrew Pavia of Primary Children’s Hospital, said while children are capable of contracting COVID-19, they don’t become sick as often as adults.
“Only a handful of kids have ended up in ICU’s. It can happen but it’s very rare,” said Pavia. “Children can pass the virus along. They can pass it along to adults who can aid in the spread and ruin our containment efforts. But most importantly, they can visit grandma or grandpa, or someone who is immunocompromised, and instead of being an annoyance, this can be a deadly illness.
Hudachko said the health department is working closely with school districts and the State Board of Education to safely get kids back into school.
“This is not going to be the school year to tough out a cold and to send your kids to school with a with a runny nose or a cough or a fever, like you may have in the past. We’re really going to need the cooperation of parents and schools and educators alike to make sure that we reopen school safely.”