This remains a critical time for Dane County to decrease the spread of COVID-19, keep people healthy, and maintain a level of transmission that is manageable by health care and public health systems. While research on school-aged children continues to emerge and evolve, a number of systematic reviews have found that school-aged children contract COVID at lower rates than older populations. This is particularly pronounced among younger school-aged children. Locally, as of August 20, 2020, nine (9) percent of all COVID cases were among children aged 0-17 in Dane County. This population comprises 22% of the county population overall. Cases among 0-4 year olds comprised 1.3% of all cases; 5-10 year olds comprised 2.7% of overall cases; and 11-17 year olds comprised 5.3% of all cases. Outbreaks and clusters among cases aged 5-17 have been rare; of the 401 cases within this age group, 32 (8.0%) were associated with an outbreak or cluster. A recent analysis also showed a higher proportion of adults with COVID in Dane County had symptoms compared to school-aged children and that the most common risk factor among school-aged children was household contact with a confirmed case. No deaths among children who have tested positive for COVID-19 have occurred in Dane County. Based on current data and our reopening metrics, PHMDC is allowing in-person student instruction for grades kindergarten through second grade (K-2) at this time.
This Order also continues the face covering requirements and limitations on taverns and mass gatherings for the reasons explained in Order 8.
For students in grades 3-5 to return in person, Dane County must have at or below a 14-day average of 39 cases per day for four consecutive weeks, while grades 6-12 will require 19 cases per day for four consecutive weeks.
Dane County is averaging 42 cases per day as of Aug. 21, according to the release. If that number rises beyond 54, public health would consider closing all schools for in-person instruction.
The science has been mixed on how children spread and are affected by the coronavirus. While some countries have returned with few issues, some states in the United States have seen outbreaks. It is believed that older children are more likely to transmit the disease than their younger peers..
“As we’ve seen throughout the country, schools that are opening too quickly — particularly with older students — are having outbreaks,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said in the release. “By allowing K-2 students to return to the classroom with strict precautions and keeping grades 3-12 virtual, we can minimize outbreaks.”