Should we keep our kids home from school due to COVID-19 concerns?
March 7, 2020 6:50 AM   Subscribe

Trying to figure out how paranoid to be about coronavirus. We live in the Bay Area in the Tri-Valley area.

Most of the tech companies have sent instructions that employees can work from home for the time being. I also work from home. The school has sent notice that they will keep schools open at the moment; field trips are optional. Absences due to concerns about the coronavirus will be excused, and we are allowed to work with the school on assignments. Obviously since the coronavirus doesn't seem to affect the kids that much, we're not that particularly worried about them, but we are worried about them bringing it home to us. We have elderly parents and relatives we visit on weekends.
posted by toastyk to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
We have elderly parents and relatives we visit on weekends.

I would suspend these visits rather than your children's schooling.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:09 AM on March 7, 2020 [44 favorites]

If it's not a hardship for you, keep them at home.
People in their 30's or 40's still can get pneumonia and require hospitalization, even if they tend to survive eventually. There are only so many hospital beds.
posted by dum spiro spero at 7:54 AM on March 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

Howard Markle, who studies pandemics, has written an essay on how closing schools early in an epidemic saves lives. Warning: New York Times link. Reading that, I’d say keep them at home if you can.
posted by FencingGal at 8:17 AM on March 7, 2020 [7 favorites]

In California, this will really start to disrupt school finances since schools receive funding based on students' daily attendance. To the point that when my kids were in school they requested that, for instance, doctor appointments be scheduled for afternoon so that students would be there when attendance was taken in the morning. I hope if schools begin closing that they'll adjust the formulas or else schools will be in a real bind.

This is, of course, just one of the knock-on effects of quarantine, but it could be a big one.
posted by sjswitzer at 10:14 AM on March 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Keep them home if you can. Look into online schooling / homeschool options in your state. I’ve taken my son out of preschool/ daycare for the same reason. I would rather still see family than have him go to school. Kids are absolute germ magnets and schools spread around illnesses all the time.
posted by permiechickie at 11:25 AM on March 7, 2020

We're keeping our kids home because it isn't a hardship for us right now and our kids are in private school so their funding doesn't depend on attendance. We figure it's the civic-minded thing to do to keep our kids out of the petri dish if we can.

The kids are sick of it already (after a week), but they don't get a vote :P
posted by potrzebie at 7:44 PM on March 7, 2020

We are in the exact same boat as you, down to the last detail, except that I couldn't work from home indefinitely, but could in the short term. We're keeping our child in school. We are doing more handwashing around the house, avoiding large gatherings, and suspending visits to anyone who might be at higher risk. I'm not an epidemiologist but it's sure looking to me like we are beyond the point of stopping the virus and at the point of trying to slow it long enough to cook up a vaccine and reduce the number of deaths. For instance, the CDC estimates that in the U.S. between 40 and 90 million people got the H1N1 from 2009, 200-400,000 people were hospitalized, and 9-18,000 died. But it's now considered be a "regular human flu virus" and is worldwide. COVID-19 is not a flu, it's a coronavirus, so it could well be like 2003's SARS, which killed 800 people worldwide and no longer spreads. You can only really tell in retrospect.
posted by wnissen at 9:17 AM on March 9, 2020

There are early indications that although the case fatality rate among children is unusually low, children are still being infected at about the same rate as everyone else.

Schools are, in general, reservoirs of infectious disease and the fact that covid-19 is unusually mild in children, while good news for children, is bad news for contagion: the less symptomatic people are, or if they are asymptomatic, the less likely they are to stay home and therefore the more likely they are to spread the pathogen to others.

It's very important to limit this kind of contagion for two reasons. First, it helps protect the portion of the population that is most at risk by limiting/slowing contagion. Second, it reduces strain on an overburdened health care system by limiting/slowing contagion. A lack of hospital beds may well be a dire consequence of the spread of covid-19, and anything that slows contagion will smooth out that utilization curve.

In a community where there is thought to be substantial community spread, it's best to keep children at home, if possible. This can be problematic for parents who are health care workers—for them, this decision is more complicated. But if you can keep the children home, it's probably for the best.

"COVID-19 is not a flu, it's a coronavirus, so it could well be like 2003's SARS, which killed 800 people worldwide and no longer spreads. You can only really tell in retrospect."

Covid-19 has, as of this morning, already killed about four thousand people and has spread to every continent except Antarctica. It's not comparable to 2003's SARS, in both good and bad ways. Good, in that its case fatality rate is much lower. Bad, in that it is far more widespread.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:39 AM on March 9, 2020

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