More than a year has gone by since COVID took over the entire world, and while many thought 2021 would see the end of it, cases have only gone up thanks to the arrival of the delta variant. Still, many people agree that we must try to learn to live with it and regain some kind of normalcy and that includes sending children back to school.
As we sent kids back into their classrooms, we must try to do it as safely as possible, and while Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott refuses to impose measures to try and keep children safe from the deathly virus, parents and teachers alike are desperately trying to create the safest environment possible in their schools.
Unfortunately, the state of Texas has done nothing to make these recommendations mandatory, on the contrary, Abbott’’s recent executive order allows for districts or government entities to be fined $1,000 if they dare impose mask mandates, and Attorney General Ken Paxton made it clear this week that they plan to take school districts to court if they don’t comply with his order. However, many schools districts are defying the governor’s order anyway, putting kids’ health ahead of any other political interests.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published two simple, easy-to-follow recommendations for keeping kids protected from the Delta variant, including masking up in schools and other crowded venues and making sure everyone age 12 and older in kid’s families get a COVID-19 shot.
Additionally, at Reform Austin we made a list of other recommendations based on CDC guidelines to keep your kids safe now that they go back to school:
- If your kid presents flu-like symptoms, keep him or her at home and consult your pediatrician. It’s possible it’s only a common cold or allergies, but try to make sure is not COVID before sending him back to mingle with other kids.
- Always test for COVID when warranted. Whether is an over the counter quick test or a PCR test, always follow doctor’s recommendations regarding testing. Quick-tests are less sensitive, so try using those only when symptoms are already present.
- Get your kids masks that fit them well and have no gaps around the mouth, nose or chin. According to Dr. Cassandra Pierre, medical director of public health programs at Boston Medical Center, the best mask is the one that kids can wear for long periods of time, even in school. “A cotton mask is the most comfortable, lightweight and breathable,” she says.
- If someone at your kid’s school gets infected first determine if your child was exposed. The CDC has a specific definition for “close contact” between kids in schools, “If your child is physically distancing 3 feet from another child who’s sick and both of them are wearing masks consistently, we would not actually consider that to be an exposure, but if that is not what has happened, then the child needs to be quarantined.” Kids who haven’t received vaccine should be quarantined, and follow a doctor’s advice.