The incidence of COVID cases is on the rise, prompting questions about the measures schools are taking.
A breakdown of schools' strategies, teachers' perspectives, and parental guidance for safeguarding children.
Following a period of relative calm during spring and summer, the United States is witnessing an upsurge in hospitalizations and fatalities due to COVID-19. This surge in severe cases seems to correlate with the emergence of the EG.5 variant (also known as Eris), accounting for over 20% of new COVID cases in the U.S.
Regrettably, this surge in cases coincides with the reopening of schools across the nation. What implications does this hold for students and staff, and how can parents ensure their children's safety? Here's what you need to be aware of.
Responses from schools While some schools have yet to resume, a few have already adopted COVID-19 protocols. Notable examples include:
The Chula Vista Elementary School District in Southern California, in partnership with Campus Clinic, is offering free weekly COVID-19 and flu tests. Additionally, they provide staff with two free counseling sessions to support mental well-being.
The Chicago Public Schools are considering a plan to allocate up to $5 million for COVID-19 rapid tests for students and staff. The district is also facilitating a range of vaccinations at health clinics.
The Charleston County School District in South Carolina is reportedly administering in-school vaccinations to children with parental consent, using a traveling van to provide vaccinations.
Mississippi's Monroe County schools have adopted weekly fogging of classrooms and buses to combat pathogens. The district has also introduced family nurse practitioners for COVID-19 testing and wellness checks.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, traditionally cautious about COVID-19 precautions, is encouraging parents to send mildly ill children to school to improve attendance.
Insights from educators Educators nationwide hold diverse opinions on COVID precautions for the 2023-24 school year. To preserve their privacy, teachers interviewed by Yahoo Life have chosen not to disclose their full names.
Sam, a college professor in Florida, intends to maintain physical distance from students and will allow sick students to miss classes without penalty. However, he doesn't plan to wear a mask due to discomfort and challenges in classroom communication.
Molly, a high school teacher in New York City, initially intended to forgo wearing a mask this year, but with the recent surge, she's reconsidering. Molly plans to take the new booster shot and might continue wearing a mask due to concerns for her elderly parents.
Aaron, an English teacher in Orange County, Calif., plans to wear an N95 mask in class. He bases his decision on scientific evidence that masks, along with other preventive measures, reduce COVID-19 transmission.
Expert perspectives Doctors emphasize that the early school year rise in COVID-19 cases isn't cause for panic. Dr. Thomas Russo and Dr. William Schaffner note that the Eris variant, while highly transmissible, doesn't appear to cause more severe disease. Dr. Danelle Fisher warns that Eris can lead to various illness levels in patients, highlighting the need for ongoing caution.
Parental guidance Dr. Fisher advises parents to review COVID-19 safety protocols with their children, including hygiene practices and avoiding sick individuals. Masks are recommended, especially if a child frequently brings infections home. Encouraging sufficient sleep, healthy eating, and regular exercise can bolster the body's natural defenses.
If a child exhibits COVID-19 symptoms, testing is crucial for their well-being and to protect others. While a targeted Eris variant booster is anticipated for the fall, it may not be available in time for the start of the school year.