The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has affected nearly 70% of children and teenagers around the world due to school closure policies. School closure is implemented widely in order to prevent viral transmission and its impact on the broader community, based on preliminary recommendations and evidence from influenza. However, there is debate with regard to the effectiveness of school closures. Growing evidence suggests that a child’s SARS-CoV-2 infection is often mild or asymptomatic and that children may not be major SARS-CoV-2 transmitters; thus, it is questionable if school closures prevent transmission significantly. This question is important as a majority of children in low- and middle-income countries depend on free school meals; unexpected long-term school closure may adversely impact nutrition and educational outcomes. Food insecurity is expected to be higher during the pandemic. In this viewpoint, we argue for a more thorough exploration of potential adverse impacts of school closures in low- and middle-income countries and recommend actions to ensure that the health and learning needs of vulnerable populations are met in this time of crisis.
© 2020 Paediatrics and Child Health Division (The Royal Australasian College of Physicians).