How Parents Can Reduce Their Child’s COVID-19 Risk When Back in School

August 20, 2021

Adding to parents’ back-to-school preparation of school supplies, backpacks, lunchboxes and carpools, is preparing and protecting their children from COVID-19.

As Texas cities, including San Antonio, experience an increase in COVID-19 positive cases and hospitalizations due to the more transmissible Delta variant that can cause more severe illness among the unvaccinated, parents are searching for guidance.

“Children under the age of 12 are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, so it’s a big worry for parents that wonder if their child can now get really sick from this virus as it mutates to find hosts,” said Gude.

The CDC continues to report that fewer children contract COVID-19, and if they do, their symptoms are often mild or have no symptoms at all. Children who are at higher risk for serious COVID-19 illness are those who have underlying medical conditions.

However, American Academy of Pediatrics reported a significant increase in positive cases in July in children across the U.S., attributing the increase to the hyper contagious Delta variant that has the most impact on those who are unvaccinated, which include children under the age of 12.

“Last school year, there were protections in place like online learning options. The Texas mask mandate required anyone within a public school to wear a mask,” said Gude. “This year, there will be in-person classes, and masks cannot be required in public schools. It’s a big change, but what hasn’t been during the pandemic. The key is to learn and plan, then set standards that work for you and your family.”

What do parents need to know when the school bell rings?

The three lessons we learned from the pandemic in 2020 that would curtail or prevent a respiratory virus from spreading still remain true today: Hand washing, social distancing and wearing masks.

1. Wash hands

Before school starts, practice thorough hand washing with young children. Wash with soap for 20 seconds, scrubbing palms, tops of hands, fingers and fingernails.

2. Social distance

Plan after-school playdates outside. Encourage children to refrain from hugging and holding hands with classmates. When inside the classroom, teach them to create a healthy distance – 2-3 arm lengths when in groups.

3. Wear a mask

Given the new evidence of the Delta variant, the CDC is recommending universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors in K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.

Although children were looking forward to seeing smiles and laughs, masks are very effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19, as well as other airborne illnesses like colds, flu, and Strep Throat.

COVID-19 illness or exposure

If your child is sick, keep them home.

COVID-19 symptoms in children are the same as in adults, which include fever, fatigue, headache, cough, nasal congestion, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, diarrhea or nausea.

If your child is not sick, but has been exposed to COVID-19, the best time to get them tested for the most accurate results is 3-5 days after the exposure. It takes days for the virus to infect a human body; getting tested too early can lead to a false negative.

If your child is ill and you suspect COVID-19, get tested.

If your child tests positive for COVID-19, follow quarantine and isolation guidelines to stop the spread of the virus within your household, friend groups, schools or daycare.

When I can expect my kids under age 12 to get vaccinated?

Mostly likely mid-winter.

Both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech launched trials of the COVID-19 vaccines in children
under 12 in March, but the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) wants to review data derived from these trials for at least four to six months to assure its safety.

Do COVID-19 vaccines protect against the delta variant?

Studies have shown that COVID-19 vaccines, including the Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna and J&J are highly effective against the Delta variant at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death.

“The COVID-19 vaccines are proving very effective at reducing severity of illness,” said Texas MedClinic Chief Operating Officer and practicing physician Dr. David, Gude. “Getting vaccinated is the single most important thing a person can do to protect themselves and their family from getting really sick from the virus.”

Texas MedClinic offers the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to children ages 12 and up without an appointment. Parents and/or their children may visit any of the 19 clinic locations in San Antonio, New Braunfels, Bulverde, Austin and Round Rock, seven days per week, 8 a.m. to
11 p.m. to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccine is free and there is no charge for administration. To save time, click here to check-in online for your preferred time and location.

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