How Risky Are After-School Activities?

In our series "What's the Risk?" experts weigh in on what risks different scenarios pose for transmitting COVID-19.
Posted at 2:08 PM, Aug 14, 2020

As the school year starts, you might be wondering about the risks of getting sick with COVID-19.  

We asked the experts, what's the risk of after-school activities?

Their take: The risk of contracting COVID-19 from after-school activities is medium risk.

"I would ask, what is your mask policy? And are participants in this after-school activity required to wear masks? I would ask, what sort of accommodations have you made for physical distancing within the after-school program? What kind of changes have you made to handwashing and and just general hygiene?" Dr. Jasmine Marcelin, infectious disease specialist at Nebraska Medicine, said. 

"The other things that happen indoors are much riskier than the ones that are out. So if you're playing in an arena or like in a gymnasium or the pool, things that are indoors, a lot more risky than if you're running track, running cross-country," Cleveland Clinic pediatric infectious diseases specialist Dr. Frank Esper said.

"One that comes to mind pretty quickly is Glee Club choir practice. There was an outbreak in Washington State that all came back to a choir group. Any time you have a type of projected speaking, you're increasing your risk of spreading droplets, which is then going to increase your risk of contracting the disease," Neysa Ernst, Johns Hopkins Biocontainment Unit nurse manager said.

"If you're talking about having just chess clubs that are face-to-face, I'm concerned about that. I think also debate. Debate is a very popular after-school activity and it's very important. And yet we know that the aerosols get disseminated in the air because there's so much talking happening in debate practice. So something like that would be a concern," Annette Anderson, deputy director for the Johns Hopkins University Center for Safe and Healthy Schools, told Newsy.

For more answers on what is low, medium, or high risk, visit