January 7, 2021

Effect of open schools on child, teacher COVID-19 morbidity in Sweden

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

In mid-March 2020, when many countries closed schools in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19, Sweden decided to keep preschools with children 1-6 years of age and schools with children 7-16 years of age open.

In this January 6, 2021, letter to the editor, researchers from Sweden present data on COVID-19 in children 1-16 years of age and their teachers. Social distancing was encouraged, but wearing face masks was not.


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The number of deaths from any cause among the 1,951,905 children aged 1-16 years was 65 during the pre-COVID-19 period from November 2019 through February 2020 and 69 during 4 months of COVID-19 exposure (March through June 2020).

From March through June 2020, 15 children with COVID-19 were admitted to an ICU—four were aged 1-6 years, and 11 were aged 7-17 years. Four of the children had an underlying chronic coexisting condition—two with cancer, one with chronic kidney disease, and one with hematologic disease. No child with COVID-19 died.

Fewer than 10 preschool teachers and 20 school teachers received intensive care for COVID-19.

Despite Sweden’s having kept schools and preschools open, there was a low incidence of severe COVID-19 among children, the authors say.

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