Commission welcomes report on COVID-19 in children and the role of school settings in transmission

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has published a report on COVID-19 in children and the role that school settings play in transmission. According to the report, in the coming months, COVID-19 cases in children are likely to rise more than in the adults’ population who are increasingly vaccinated. In addition, given the likely continued risk of transmission among unvaccinated children, it is critical for the educational system to be prepared ahead of the upcoming school year.  Physical distancing, hygiene measures and timely testing of symptomatic cases remain fundamental for the prevention of transmission in school settings. School closures alone are insufficient to avoid community transmission if other non-pharmaceutical interventions, like those indicated above, are not in use. Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “Protecting the most vulnerable in our society has been a top priority throughout the crisis. The prolonged closure of schools around the EU has had a negative impact on the health of our children and adolescents. It has led to issues such as social isolation, psychological distress, anxiety and depressive symptoms – this is of course of great concern. We all want to make sure that children can continue to go to school and live their lives in the safest possible way. To do so, measures in schools such as physical distancing and other means to reduce transmission risks will continue to prove essential to prevent transmission and keep our schools open, in particular with the Delta variant circulating increasingly.” Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said: “Children and teenagers have been hit hard by school closures and distance learning during this pandemic. As we are preparing for the school year ahead, the ECDC report comes at a vital moment. It must be our priority to safeguard our children’s health and wellbeing. Measures must be adapted to prevent transmission as well as to provide children with a safe learning and teaching environment.” This report draws upon and updates evidence presented in the previous reports from the ECDC on this topic published in August and December 2020.