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Age plays a factor in how easily kids spread coronavirus, study finds

A new study from South Korea examined how much children spread COVID-19 and could play a role in whether schools reopen for students this year.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — One of the big questions when it comes to reopening schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic is how much kids spread coronavirus. As it turns out, it may depend on their age.

New research from South Korea shows age could play a big role, with middle and high school students being much more likely to spread COVID-19 than younger children. 

The new study shows that kids are under are half as likely as adults to transmit coronavirus. Researchers have multiple theories as to why, ranging from a simple answer like kids exhaling less air, thus sending fewer droplets of the virus into the air for other people to breathe. Scientists also think kids' height plays a factor. Kids 10 and under are shorter, so when they breathe, the air they exhale is closer to the ground and the virus doesn't linger in the air quite as long. 

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The news is concerning for older kids, though. Researchers found that kids age 10 to 19 are just as likely as adults to spread COVID-19. One possible explanation from doctors is that while older kids are close to adults when it comes to their height, their personal hygiene habits are usually lacking. Many still have bad habits like younger kids, meaning they're less likely to wash their hands, socially distance and wear a face mask. 

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That's why experts say taking extra safety measures in schools is even more important this fall.