A broad study conducted by a group of researchers at Yale University found that the level of risk associated with working in child care during the coronavirus pandemic has been relatively low.
It surveyed 57,000 child care providers across all 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
“Until now, decision makers had no way to assess whether opening child care centers would put staff at greater risk of contracting COVID-19,” said Yale University Professor Walter Gilliam, the study’s lead author.
During the months of May and June, researchers compared self-reported COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations among workers whose programs stayed open and those whose programs closed.
They found no differences in COVID-19 outcomes between workers who continued to provide in-person care for young children and those who did not.
“This study tells us that as long as there are strong on-site measures to prevent infection, providing care for young children doesn’t seem to add to the provider’s risk of getting sick,” Gilliam said.
Those “on-site measures” included disinfecting, hand-washing, symptom screening, social distancing, mask-wearing and limiting group size.
Gilliam noted that one of the main factors in whether child care workers contracted the virus was the overall level of community transmission in the county where they lived.
Researchers found that Black, Latino and Native American child care providers were more likely to test positive for the coronavirus and be hospitalized for it.
Gilliam cautioned that the findings only applied to child care and not necessarily to teachers who work in schools or other settings with older children.
“Adults who work with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers typically have a small group of children who stay together all day,” Gilliam said.
“Middle schools and high schools may have hundreds of people in a building — and typically, moving from class to class. Those factors alone make K-12 schools very different from child care programs.”
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