COVID symptom study launches programme for schools

Early results suggest children do not exhibit classic COVID symptoms

16th November 2020 about a 2 minute read

Researchers behind the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app, which has almost 4.4million contributors, has launched a new programme for schools. 

The COVID Symptom Study for School Communities asks parents to log information about their children’s health and any COVID tests they have taken. 

Schools signing up to the programme will receive daily health insights into the health of their students. This is aimed at ensuring a more informed and rapid decision-making process around COVID.

Classic symptoms not reported

Over 350 schools signed up in the first week. Early data suggests that over half (of nearly 200) children who tested positive for COVID-19 did not report any of the three ‘classic’ symptoms (cough, fever, loss of smell) in the week before and after the test.

Preliminary findings also suggest that children and young people generally get milder symptoms, and may be less infective. But researchers are keen to stress the work is at a very early stage. 

The app prompts parents to take one minute a day to report any symptoms and COVID tests on behalf of their children.

All symptom and test reports for children are collected anonymously and aggregated by their school and bubble. 

Sharing information

Schools receive daily insights on a variety of key COVID metrics for each bubble. Some of this information will be shared with parents including how many parents are currently part of their child’s in-app bubble, and how many children are feeling well or unwell in their child’s bubble and in the school overall.

Schools will be informed of:

– the number of children’s health reports submitted for that day

– the number of children in each bubble that are feeling unwell

– the profile of symptoms that children are experiencing

– the number of children who have tested positive for COVID-19.

Dominic Kenrick, headteacher Warden Park Secondary Academy in Sussex, said: “Our use of the COVID Symptom Study app has been a powerful way to engage parents in the reporting of symptoms. 

“This engagement has helped to reinforce their confidence in our implemented Academy practices and protocols, while also supporting important national research.”

The study is the UK’s largest citizen science project on understanding COVID in children.