Omicron cases are higher than ever, just in time for kids to go back to school following their holiday break. While some states and schools are taking aggressive measures in order to control the spread of the virus, the majority of experts have mixed opinions on how to move forward.
Here’s what parents should know about this back-to-school season, keeping in mind that advice varies depending on the state where your kid goes to school.
Is it too soon to go back to school?
While this answer depends largely on your community, in areas of high transmission rates, the best option for kids might be to go remote for some time, particularly if located in areas like New York and Washington D.C., which currently have very high levels of transmission. Still, many kids benefit from in-school learning, not only because of their brains but also due to socialization and for the meals that these locations provide.
Should kids get tested before heading back to school?
Many schools are requiring negative tests for kids to go back to school. These mandates are necessary, keeping infections in check and guaranteeing the safety of teachers and students alike. “I think all those things put together, it’s safe enough to get those kids back to school, balanced against the deleterious effects of keeping them out,” Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC News.
While some schools might provide at-home test kids for kids, others might not afford to, and might not ask for a negative test result. If kids haven’t had contact with someone with COVID-19 and are feeling fine, there shouldn’t be a need for a test unless the school is requiring one.
What are the vaccine and mask mandates?
Despite the new variant, kids and parents should be reassured that getting vaccinated has a positive impact. While pediatric hospitalizations for COVID-19 have hit new highs, a large majority of these kids haven’t been vaccinated, making it very important for parents to take their kids to get their vaccines as soon as they can.
When it comes to face masks, it appears like these are necessary for school settings, no matter the kid’s vaccination status. Three-ply surgical and KN95s masks are the ones that are currently being recommended for kids and people of all ages.