Coronavirus Chronicles — School and Its Perils

Somehow, word got around that COVID-19 was unlikely to either infect, or be transmitted by, children. Researchers desperately scrambled to find reliable and sufficiently large data sets to verify the relative safety of kids. But then, the results started to be published, and meanwhile, individual reports trickled into the public consciousness.

At the end of July, for instance, the world learned that a sleep-away camp in the American state of Georgia had been the site of a serious outbreak. The proprietors had read the Centers for Disease Control recommendations and half-heartedly gone through the motions on some of them.

Cloth masks were required for staff members. Camp attendees were cohorted by cabin and engaged in a variety of indoor and outdoor activities, including daily vigorous singing and cheering. Measures not implemented were cloth masks for campers and opening windows and doors for increased ventilation in buildings.

Masks for the grownups, but not for the kids, is the procedure in many schools, or will be when they open. Another thing about schools is, the ventilation suggestion will be very hard to follow in many parts of the country where temperatures are extreme. Picture a classroom where the students are bundled in their winter coats, hats, and gloves (and possibly even wearing face covers) for the sake of healthful fresh air circulation. Or maybe the windows don’t open. A modern HVAC system, if a school is lucky enough to have one, is not designed to be interfered with.

Anyway, in order to be accepted by the woodsy center intended to provide for fun and cultivate growth, both campers and staff had been required to prove that they tested negative within 12 days of the start of the session. In a world that offers so many opportunities to catch the disease that is an extraordinarily lenient window.

The report details that 231 campers under the age of 18 tested positive, nearly half of the 509 total children at the camp. An additional 29 people over the age of 18, out of 89 at the camp, tested positive.

At the beginning of August, Sarah Bowden of Georgia wrote about another establishment:

The day camp my son went to was limited to 60 kids per day, split into 2 year age groups with 6 kids per counselor/room, did temp checks and hand sanitizing before kids even got out of their car, and required staff and campers to wear masks. He still got #COVID19.

An article written by Rachel Schraer for elicited 2,541 responses before comments were closed, so it obviously touched a nerve. One topic is the news from the United Kingdom’s Office for National Statistics, about a relatively small study. The researchers admit that it is “hard to make any strong conclusions,” about who is at the most risk of catching COVID-19, but here are a few of the observed patterns:

Those in people-facing health or social care roles, and working outside their homes in general… People from ethnic minority backgrounds were more likely to have a positive antibody test, suggesting a past infection… There was also some evidence that people living in larger households were more likely to test positive than those in smaller households.

This survey also added to the growing suspicion that a very large proportion of positive testers never experience any symptoms. Elevated temperature is a symptom, and apparently a lot of positive testers run hot only intermittently, or never. Investors who rushed to buy stock in the booming no-touch digital thermometer business may want to reconsider. This device is useful as a tool, but really should not be asked to serve as the tool.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “CDC report: More than 200 children infected with COVID-19 at Georgia overnight camp,”, 07/31/20
Source: Sarah Bowden on Twitter
Source: “Coronavirus: Majority testing positive have no symptoms,”, 07/07/20
Image by JMacPherson/CC BY 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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