TARGet Kids! COVID‑19 Study of Children and Families: Safe Return to School, Work, and Play
Across Canada and around the world, governments have implemented policies to limit the spread of COVID‑19 including physical isolation, school and childcare closures. Many governments are now reducing these measures and returning children and families back to school and work due to a number of economic, social, and political factors. The World Health Organization recommends that governments seeking to relax physical isolation measures do so through two complementary approaches: 1) breaking chains of transmission through testing, isolating, and treating and 2) monitoring disease circulation through surveillance and serological surveys. We propose to pivot Canada’s largest ongoing children’s study, TARGet Kids, to provide high-quality, real-time data to monitor, quantify and characterize COVID‑19 infection among children and parents. We aim to measure the incidence of new infections as well as previous COVID‑19 exposure so that we can understand how COVID‑19 is transmitted between children and their parents, risk factors for infection, disease severity, and health system use. We will also answer important questions about COVID‑19 serological status of children and parents and the impact of physical isolation on child emotional and behavioral health as well as parent mental health and stress. We will provide evidence to support policy interventions to break underrecognized chains of transmission and reduce illness severity which will help policy makers guide children and their parents in safely returning to school, work and play. Key strengths of this proposal include a scientifically rigorous plan with a well-tested rapid implementation strategy that leverages Canada’s largest children’s cohort study to provide real-time high-quality data on COVID‑19 community transmission.