When is it safe for kids to go back to school? Two Canadian projects adding data to the ‘passionate debates’

This week, 250 Toronto families received a package of swabs in the mail. Parents will swab their kids and themselves and send the samples back to be tested for COVID-19, and repeat this weekly — a faucet of data to help answer urgent questions about the role children play in driving transmission of the coronavirus.

The TARGet Kids study, which aims to enrol 1,000 families, is one of two major ongoing research projects in Canada that have rapidly pivoted in recent weeks to help answer the many unknowns about COVID-19 and children. Both will help inform policies to determine when it’s safe to reopen schools and daycares, which have been shuttered here since March — a necessary intervention, but also a brutal drag on children’s learning, parents’ mental health, and the economy, since most working parents rely on child care.

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