Small children should rather return to creches and primary schools first as they seem to be the least at risk of possibly infecting adults with coronavirus, according to research.
The department of basic education announced on Thursday that pupils would return to school in a phased approach from June, first starting with those doing matric and Grade 7s.
This was dependent on schools’ readiness in regards to health precautions for the return of pupils.
While some parents have objected to returning their children to school, as the number of new confirmed Covid-19 cases is still spiking, younger children are believed to pose no risk.
According to research by Don’t Forget the Bubbles, a paediatric blog for professionals, the role of children transmitting the virus is unclear but “it seems likely they do not play a significant role”.
The research found that the China-World Health Organisation joint commission could not recall cases during contact tracing where transmission occurred from a child to an adult.
Economist Mike Schussler said two studies in China that trace the contacts of infected people found that children are, at worst, no more likely to catch the virus than adults. If they do get infected, they were 2,000 times less likely to be killed by the virus than someone aged over 60, he said.
“Nor is there evidence that children who end up catching the disease are silent spreaders who pass it on to their families.
“Researchers in Iceland and the Netherlands have not found a single case in which a child brought the virus into their family.
“The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the European Union’s public health agency, said last week that child-to-adult transmission ‘appears to be uncommon’,” Schussler said.
But while schools will reopen in stages, based on the research, small children should return first to creches and primary schools as they “have the thirstiest brains and seem to be the least at risk”.
“Those facing exams should come next,” said Schussler. “Several countries have cancelled important tests; others have postponed them.
“Older [pupils] may be more at risk than the youngest ones but they are also more able to follow new protocols.
“Social distancing is possible in high schools, particularly if class sizes are reduced.”