Epidemiological modelling of infection spread in child care facilities

During the global COVID-19 pandemic, numerous measures were taken to mitigate the spread of infection. Among these was the closure of childcare centers since non-pharmaceutical interventions like social distancing or mask-wearing are not applicable to preschool children. However, this has led to extensive negative effects, such as reducing educational, psychosocial, and nutritional opportunities for children and increasing the risk of parenting-related exhaustion, which poses a risk factor for child abuse. The World Health Organization addressed violence against children as “a hidden crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic”. Therefore, it is essential to research testing and quarantine strategies that allow the reopening of childcare facilities, while simultaneously preventing infection spread.

To this end, we developed a state-based model for simulating the spread of COVID-19 in child care facilities. This software allows monitoring the viral spread for various scenarios, such as different quarantine policies, the percentage of children participating in regular testing, different testing modalities (PCR-Test, rapid antigen tests), the test frequency, or even certain test days.

(A) Structure of a virtual day care center for children (DCC): The DCC contains of several groups of children with their associared child care workers (CCW). Of these children only a certain percentage is allowed to be tested. Furthermore, the DCC consists of a head. Children and CCW/ Head interact within their own groups but also among different groups due to shared playgrounds and bathrooms.
(B) State-based model of an extended SIR model that determines infection/quarantine/recovery processes for children and adults individually.