Despite more kids contracting COVID-19, a local doctor says students can still safely attend school

Back to School

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — If sending your children back to school in the middle of a pandemic is causing some anxiety in your household, 10 On Your Side is here to help. 

When the pandemic first began, the news about COVID-19 and children seemed fairly comforting.  

“We know, from early on, transmission was less likely in children and obviously had less severe disease,” said Dr. Douglas Mitchell, medical director of CHKD Medical Group.  

But then along came the Delta Variant. 

“We are seeing more transmission in children than we have before,” Mitchell said, pointing to two possible explanations: the Delta Variant could be more transmissible among children, or the virus could be simply spreading among unvaccinated populations, which includes children.  

Currently, only children ages 12 and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

When kids do get COVID-19, Mitchell says it’s less common, but not impossible for them to get severely ill.  

“What we can do to prevent the spread among children is still important, because there are some serious consequences,” he said. “Less frequent, less common, but they’re not zero.” 

That doesn’t mean kids need to spend another year learning from home.  

“We know from the experience last year that we can have our kids in school safely,” Mitchell said. “What worked last year should be our approach heading into this current year.” 

Keeping kids six feet apart in full classrooms will likely be impossible, Mitchell acknowledges, which is why it’s important that kids who are of age get vaccinated and that everyone wear their masks. 

“Masks clearly are effective in preventing the spread,” he said. “It’s clear that we need the kids back in school and socializing there. Is back in school socializing with a mask ideal? No, but it’s still better than sitting at home using virtual.” 

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