CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta announced Wednesday that his children will not be going back to school in the fall, with the father of three teen and preteen girls saying while kids are "far less likely to get sick from COVID-19" they "can become infected and they can spread it quickly."
The decision from Gupta, who lives in Georgia in Fulton County, comes as an increasing number of states have announced they will begin the fall school year with remote learning only, including New Jersey, which just reversed course on its decision to begin with in-person learning on Wednesday.
"Many schools around the country have already made the decision for the students. At least 63 of the 101 largest school districts in the country decided to start the year with virtual learning. There are other school districts that have decided to go in-person, though many with virtual options. My own kids' school left the choice up to the individual families, and while it's difficult, I'm grateful we have options," Gupta wrote in a CNN.com op-ed.
"It is true that children are far less likely to get sick from COVID-19, as compared to adults, but they are by no means immune. They can become infected and they can spread it quickly. A widely cited study out of South Korea showed that kids 10 to 19 were spreading the virus just as much as adults," Gupta later noted. "In fact, they had the highest rate of COVID-19 among household contacts. Interestingly, in that same study, children younger than 10 did not account for a significant amount of viral spread."
Gupta went on to note that the South Korean study only had 30 positive cases of those younger than 10 years old.
"Of the nearly 60,000 contacts that were traced in that study, only 237 were from children under 10. The low rate of spread among young kids may not have been because they are less likely to transmit the virus, but because they have largely been home over the last few months, and had few contacts as a result."
"As our kids become increasingly mobile, they will become part of a large national experiment, and there is little doubt the infection rates will increase," he added while writing he is "particularly struck by the stories of worried teachers around the country who said they were writing out their wills in anticipation of returning to school."
"None of this is easy, and some families may arrive at a different conclusion after looking at the same data," Gupta concluded. "In the age of COVID-19, it seems we are all forced to become amateur epidemiologists, while also being the best parents we can be."
Fulton County has seen more than 20,000 cases and 445 deaths since the pandemic began.
The county rate of new cases per 100,000 people current rate is 316.2, which is 216.2 cases above the standard 100 new cases per 100,000 people for face-to-face instruction in Georgia.