School is as safe as it's ever been for Kiwi students, despite the world being in the middle of a drawn-out fight with the Covid-19 pandemic that has locked down countries around the world.
That's the view of two University of Otago infectious disease experts, saying children appear less susceptible to coronavirus and that New Zealand's lockdown had limited the spread of other viruses, bacteria and illness.
Added to that, New Zealand had now developed good contact tracing systems to warn people they might have contracted coronavirus before they spread it to others, the pair said.
Associate Professor Tony Walls and Professor Philip Hill, leaders of the university's Global Health Institute, pointed to overseas studies to back their claims.
One recent study of an Australian cluster showed that children only contracted the virus from adults in that case and didn't spread it to other children they were in close contact with at school.
Singapore had also left its schools open during the pandemic and there were no outbreaks among children so far.
"A question many parents will be asking themselves is 'How safe is it to send children to school?'," Walls said.
"The answer is sending your children to school is as safe as it's ever been.''
He said overseas evidence showed that while children can be infected with Covid-19 they seldom became sick enough to need to go to hospital and were not the main spreaders.
In the United States, there had so far been more than 150,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of coronavirus but fewer than 1 per cent (0.7per cent ) occurred in children.
Of the children infected, most were older than 10.
In Iceland, where 6 per cent of the population, or more than 9000 people were tested, no child under 10 tested positive. Only 0.8 per cent of children older than this returned a positive test, Walls said.
In Italy, emergency departments specialising in child patients have seen - depending on the region - between 73 per cent and 88 per cent fewer child patients compared with the same time in previous years.
In the recent Australian study in New South Wales authorities tested 863 people who had been in close contact with nine teachers and nine children at 15 different schools, who earlier tested positive for Covid-19.
All 18 people with coronavirus had an opportunity to spread the virus at their schools, yet of the 863 close contacts, only two cases of transmission occurred.
And none of these were child-to-child transmissions, Walls said.
Instead, one of the two new cases was a child who may have got it from their primary school teacher, the study reported.
Hill backed this, saying it didn't make sense to say the virus spread widely in schools when there were so few cases of this happening overseas.
"When children do get Covid-19 it is usually acquired from an infected adult family member,'' he said.
"This is quite different to influenza, for which children are the main spreaders in communities and the most likely of anyone, other than the elderly, to be sick enough to be hospitalised."
Hill did caution that "nobody can say your child is not going to get an infection if you send them to school".
However, families dealt with a similar problem every winter with influenza and many other viral infections.
"The best protection for everyone in a school is to keep children and adults away from school if they are unwell, and to encourage everyone to wash their hands regularly during the day," Hill said.
"Vaccinating your child against influenza every year is a good idea."