School Children and COVID-19

We are using the latest research to make decisions about how we should operate our schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to follow new data and science as it is available to learn more. It is important to understand that current studies and data summarized below still present an early and limited picture of what we know about children and school reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn More About the 2020-2021 School Year

Children are less likely to have COVID-19 or have severe illness with COVID-19 and younger children may be less likely to spread COVID-19 than adults.

  • Children, particularly younger children, are less likely than adults to have COVID-19.
  • Children may be less likely to become infected than adults, even after being exposed to someone with COVID-19.
  • Children infected with COVID-19 generally have mild or no symptoms.
  • If infected, younger children (less than 10 years) may be less likely to spread COVID-19 to others than adolescents and adults.
  • Spread of virus is more likely within household contacts than among non-household contacts.

COVID-19 appears to behave differently in young children and teens in schools than other common respiratory viruses, like the flu.

  • Although young children play a major role in flu outbreaks, so far this does not appear to be the case with COVID-19.
  • While there have been some specific examples, so far from international data, schools have not seemed to play a major role in the spread of COVID-19.
  • Studies from other countries suggest school closures did not contribute to the spread of the epidemic.

Less than 6 feet of social distancing may still be protective for children.

  • The CDC still recommends 6 feet of social distancing as the most health protective distancing.
  • However, in low- and medium-risk settings, 3 feet of social distancing may lead to a similar risk for the spread of COVID-19, especially when people wear cloth face coverings. Because of decreased risk of spread among children, schools may be considered low or medium risk.
  • Keeping students (or children) spread out with more space in between them provides additional protection.

View this Fact Sheet with Additional Resources in English and Spanish