Millions of students throughout the US are headed back to their schools, facing a challenge they never had before. The highly contagious variant is fueling the fourth wave of the pandemic that is sending thousands of children to hospitals.
The US Centers for disease control and prevention says that the only weapon for students above the age of 12 years is getting vaccinated. Kids that are not eligible to get vaccinated also have ways to prevent getting infected by the Delta variant.
Here’s How Children Can Prevent Catching An Infection During School Hours
California’s Coastal Kids Pediatrics’ regional medical director, Steven Abelowitz, believes that minor symptoms that were ignored in the past shouldn’t be now, like a runny nose.
He said that considering the present surge in COVID-19 cases especially among children, minor symptoms should not be overlooked. If parents notice any symptoms in their kids, they should consult a pediatrician right away.
It is possible to catch the infection without any symptoms, so it is important to take preventive measures during other parts of the day.
Dr. Leana Wen, a CNN medical analyst, says that when children chat with their friends outdoors the risk of catching an infection is very low. Therefore, masks can be taken off while waiting for a bus at the bus stop or outdoors in recess.
Abelowitz said that if there are many children in one place, and even though it is outdoors and there and vaccinated the risk shoots up.
Wen said that masking up on a school bus is extremely important as children are in close proximity with other children in an enclosed space. It is important to make sure that they are wearing a mask that covers their nose and their mouth properly. A 3-ply surgical mask is recommended. Wen said that a cloth mask is not sufficient. Kids can wear KN95s.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that if children use a cloth mask it should have multiple layers. Studies show that surgical masks provide more protection.
Carpooling might be a good option especially if all the adults are vaccinated. If not, everyone in the carpool should be wearing masks and taking preventive measures. keep your windows rolled down. It might not provide a hundred percent risk-free zone, but the risk is still reduced.
As the highly contagious data variant is causing havoc in the US the CDC recommends that students from kindergarten to 12th grade should wear masks in school. Every kid above the age of two years should mask up, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Abelowitz calls the delta variant a game-changer. He said that the new COVID-19 pediatric infection has shot up recently, more than it was a few months ago. He said that everyone knows that masks reduce the risk of catching the infection. He added that if we do not control these numbers, unfortunately, the kids will have to stop in-person learning.
Masking up would do no good if kids keep taking it on and off during school. Wen said that this is something that will take time. It might prove good to practice masks at home and making sure the kids are fine with that type of mask.
Wen said that her son took some time to get used to wearing a mask, but after a few days, he got used to it. She believes that trying different types of masks is worthwhile, as people have different levels of comfort zones.
Abelowitz believes that teaching the importance of masks to young children is a tough task. It is okay to not go into details. He said that as a young child you could simply say that there are people out there catching the infection from other people and if you do not want to get sick you should wear a mask every day.