Background: Understanding SARS-CoV-2 infection in children is necessary to reopen schools safely. Methods: We measured SARS-CoV-2 infection in 320 learners [10.5 ± 2.1 (sd); 7–17 y.o.] at four diverse schools with either remote or on-site learning. Schools A and B served low-income Hispanic learners; school C served many special-needs learners, and all provided predominantly remote instruction. School D served middle- and upper-income learners, with predominantly on-site instruction. Testing occurred in the fall (2020), and 6–8 weeks later during the fall-winter surge (notable for a tenfold increase in COVID-19 cases). Immune responses and mitigation fidelity were also measured. Results: We found SARS-CoV-2 infections in 17 learners only during the surge. School A (97% remote learners) had the highest infection (10/70, 14.3%, p < 0.01) and IgG positivity rates (13/66, 19.7%). School D (93% on-site learners) had the lowest infection and IgG positivity rates (1/63, 1.6%). Mitigation compliance [physical distancing (mean 87.4%) and face-covering (91.3%)] was remarkably high at all schools. Documented SARS-CoV-2-infected learners had neutralizing antibodies (94.7%), robust IFN-γ + T cell responses, and reduced monocytes. Conclusions: Schools can implement successful mitigation strategies across a wide range of student diversity. Despite asymptomatic to mild SARS-CoV-2 infection, children generate robust humoral and cellular immune responses. Impact: Successful COVID-19 mitigation was implemented across a diverse range of schools.School-associated SARS-CoV-2 infections reflect regional rates rather than remote or on-site learning.Seropositive school-aged children with asymptomatic to mild SARS-CoV-2 infections generate robust humoral and cellular immunity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health