Background and objectives
The role of schools in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infections in the community is still controversial. The objective of our study was to describe the epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 infections in different pediatric age groups during the first 2 months of the fall back-to-school period, in the context of increasing viral transmission in France.
Weekly epidemiological data provided by Santé Publique France and the Ministry of National Education were analyzed according to the age groups defined by the different school levels. Weeks (W) 34–42 were considered for analysis.
The PCR positivity rate and incidence rate increased in all age groups during the study period, in an age-dependent manner. At W42, with adults being considered as reference, the risk ratio for a positive PCR test was 0.46 [95% CI: 0.44–0.49] and 0.69 [0.68–0.70] for children aged 0–5 years and 6–17 years, respectively. Similarly, the incidence rate ratio was 0.09 [0.08–0.09], 0.31 [0.30–0.32], 0.64 [0.63–0.66], and 1.07 [1.05–1.10] for children aged 0–5 years, 6–10 years, 11–14 years, and 15–17 years, respectively. Children and adolescents accounted for 1.9% of the newly hospitalized patients between W34 and W42, and for 1.3% of new intensive care admissions. No death was observed. Among infected children and adolescents, the percentage of asymptomatic individuals was 57% at W34 and 48% at W42. The number of schools closed remained low, less than 1% throughout the study period. The number of confirmed cases among school staff was consistent with the data measured in the general population.
In the context of increasing viral transmission in the population, the spread among children and adolescents remained lower than that observed among adults, despite keeping schools open. However, the impact was age-dependent, with data in high schools close to those observed in adults.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.
Keywords : SARS-CoV-2, Lockdown, Children, Adolescents, PCR