President Donald Trump said Wednesday he would be comfortable sending his school-age son and grandchildren to in-person school this fall even as the country struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump suggested during a press briefing that children have strong immune systems to ward off the virus and pointed to some evidence that has shown young children transmit it less easily.
“Yeah, I am comfortable with that,” Trump said when asked about his own family.
“I would like to see the schools open 100 percent. And we’ll do it safely. We’ll do it carefully,” he said.
This week the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association released a joint report on covid-19 cases among U.S. children. While it found that severe illness among children who contract the disease is rare, there has been a marked increase in children testing positive in the past several weeks as more day-cares and camps reopened.
Trump was pressed on whether he understood concerns that sending children back to school increases their potential exposure to the virus that they then could spread to parents or grandparents who are more vulnerable to serious illness.
The president said his administration was examining whether children who caught the virus at school would even transmit it at home.
“A lot of people are saying they don’t transmit … They don’t catch it easily,” Trump said. “They don’t bring it home easily. And if they do catch it, they get better fast.”
A study in June found that children and teenagers are only half as likely to get infected with the coronavirus as adults 20 and older. But the findings did not rule out children spreading the virus to family members. Experts say the evidence on how children catch and transmit the virus is still too scant to be definitive.
New research from South Korea released this week determined that children older than 10 were just as likely to transmit the virus as adults. Those younger than 10 were less likely to spread it, but the risk wasn’t zero. Trump’s youngest child is 14 years old.
Critics of reopening schools this fall also point out that it’s not just children and their families whose health would be at risk, but also the adult faculty and support staff that run the school.