COVID-19 Running Rampant Through Texas Daycare Centers

COVID-19

Over 300 children in Texas daycares have tested positive for COVID-19 and that number is rising.

Nationwide, the transmission rate of COVID-19 has been low among children, but as of June 30, 2020, Texas reported 950 positive cases of COVID-19 — 307 children and 643 staff members — at 668 childcare locations. At this time, there are 12,207 licensed daycare centers open in Texas and the reported positive cases have gone from 59 in mid-May to 576 on June 23.

Experts and health officials cannot seem to agree on how risky it is for children to gather in daycare centers and classrooms. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be physically present in schools. They believe the educational benefits outweigh any healthcare concerns. The Academy believes that three feet of social distancing is enough for classroom areas. Additionally, the Academy stated that “the relative impact of physical distancing among children is likely small based on current evidence and certainly difficult to implement.”

The CDC recommends that daycare centers practice a minimum of six feet of social distancing and students and staff who have contracted COVID-19 be dismissed for two to five days while public health authorities assess the situation and determine what to do next.

According to a University of Vermont study, children contact COVID-19 “far less frequently” than adults. Also, it was determined that the virus was less likely to spread among children. The study concluded that “transmission in schools may be less important in community transmission than initially feared.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics used this study as a guiding tool for reopening schools. The Academy stated that “children do not seem to amplify the outbreak of COVID-19.” Other experts agree.

On Thursday, July 1, 2020, Texas reinstated safety measures in childcare centers that had been repealed in the middle of June. These include requiring daycare centers to check temperatures of staff and students each day, parents are to drop off their children outside, and family-style meals have been suspended.

“Providers are required to follow state Minimum Standards to ensure the health and safety of children in care. HHSC has enacted emergency rules and they require operations to implement screening procedures that align with the CDC’s most recent guidance. We continue to advise child care operations to follow the guidance of the CDC and those laid out in Governor Abbott’s Open Texas Checklist,” according to Danielle Pestrikoff, spokesperson for Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

By Jeanette Vietti

Sources:

Texas Tribune: More than 300 children in Texas day cares have caught COVID-19. and the numbers are rising
Dallas News: Coronavirus cases take big jump in Texas day care centers
Houston Chronicle: New COVID-19 emergency rules issues for Texas child care centers

Image Courtesy of Austin Community College’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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