03 Feb Masking in Early Child Care Programs Linked to Fewer Closures
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Thomas Murray MD PhD
Associate Professor, Yale School of Medicine
Department of Pediatrics, Infectious Disease and Global Health
Associate Medical Director, Infection Prevention
Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: This study was performed by Yale- CARES (Children and Adults Research in Early Education Study Team) a multidisciplinary group of researchers that are interested in learning how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted early child care programs in the US including the effects on both the children and those who care for them in this setting. This is important because when child care programs close it becomes very difficult for working families to find safe, affordable alternative care.
We surveyed over 6000 child care workers from across the US in May/June 2020 with a follow up survey in May/June 2021. This includes both center based and home based child care programs. One question we were interested in was what things they were doing in their programs to reduce the risk of COVID-19. We then asked whether their program closed at any time in that year because of COVID-19.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Our results found that early child care programs where child care providers endorsed child masking for children 2 years and older were 13% less likely to close due to COVID-19 compared with centers that did not mask children.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Our results are consistent with other studies in settings where children come together that that show masking offers benefits to prevent infections with COVID-19. These results further support current recommendations by the American Academcy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control Prevention that children 2 years and older should mask in early child care when community transmission levels of the SARS-CoV2 virus is high.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: We are continuing to look broadly at how COVID-19 has impacted this critical industry that cares for our children outside of the home. This includes examining the mental health and economic challenges faced by early child care workers as well what changes they are seeing in the kids they care for. The goal is to identify how we can best support this critically important work force.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: Social isolation from the COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected the mental health of children. Strategies such as masking that bring children safely together in person to promote those social conditions should be considered when community viral transmission is high so that children can continue to learn and develop together in early child care programs and parents can continue to work.
- Thomas S. Murray, Amyn A. Malik, Mehr Shafiq, Aiden Lee, Clea Harris, Madeline Klotz, John Eric Humphries, Kavin M. Patel, David Wilkinson, Inci Yildirim, Jad A. Elharake, Rachel Diaz, Chin Reyes, Saad B. Omer, Walter S. Gilliam. Association of Child Masking With COVID-19–Related Closures in US Childcare Programs. JAMA Network Open, 2022; 5 (1): e2141227 DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.41227
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