Vigilance in following prevention guidelines can keep kids safe at school
For parents and children, the start of the 2020 school year comes filled with extra concern and anxiety because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If parents and
their children continue to be vigilant in all the prevention steps - hand
washing, masking and social distancing - Thomas Huth, M.D., says children in elementary
and high school should be able to remain healthy and safe while the pandemic
likely continues into the fall.
Dr. Huth, Vice
President of Medical Affairs at Reid Health, has tracked COVID-19 data since
the pandemic began. He also leads a meeting twice a week with all regional
health department officials where the data is reviewed and participants can
share details about what's going on in their communities and in their schools.
risk seems to be low for healthy people under 40, including children - but of
course there are exceptions. Generally it's around the same percentage as
seasonal influenza," he said. Though since the outbreak hit the area, only one
teen has been hospitalized at Reid Health -- and the teen improved quickly --
Dr. Huth notes an increased risk for some ethnic groups that still make
following the guidelines imperative for everyone.
He says the
information he monitors daily from national and international organizations
indicates increased risk for Latino and African-American children, children with
lung conditions, obesity or a history of premature birth.
The efforts to
prevent the spread seem more challenging at the college level, he says. "What I
hear from health departments is that the plans for protection on college
campuses are good. The problem is a sometimes lack of discipline of some
students outside of the classroom, particularly off campus at bars and
encourages parents to set the example for their children and teens by using
masks properly, washing their hands frequently and practicing distancing - even
in family gatherings. Some clusters of outbreaks in the region have followed
family gatherings where the safety guidelines were not followed, he notes.
children are also now believed to be less likely to be asymptomatic spreaders -
people who show no symptoms but are still contagious to at-risk adults. "Generally,
the younger the child, the less likely. After age 10 though, it increases to
the same likelihood of high schoolers and college age kids, who probably
transmit it as readily as adults. But in no age group can we say there is not
risk of transmission, so at all ages preventative measures must be taken."
are especially important for Latino and African-American children, who seem to
be at somewhat higher risk - especially those with other chronic conditions.
"Though the risk is still relatively low, parents and children of all
backgrounds must not let up with safety measures until COVID-19 is no longer a
Dr. Huth said
regional school systems are all taking many steps to keep kids safe and working
with their local health departments on any needs to isolate and quarantine when
an infection is found.
"If everyone continues
to follow the guidelines carefully, we believe this will help us avoid an
upswing in COVID-19 cases."
More information: https://www.reidhealth.org/safe