NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — As school districts across Virginia determine their next steps after the removal of the mask mandate, health experts want to remind the public an end to the pandemic isn’t in sight.

Even with signs of this most recent surge slowing down, community transmission remains high in the Eastern Health District, with positivity rates at 35%.

Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters Chief Medical Officer Dr. Christopher Foley says pediatric cases have begun to plateau at CHKD due in part to proper mitigation strategies and more children getting vaccinated.

“One patient who’s been fully vaccinated and boosted that’s been admitted to the hospital with COVID,” he said. “It’s really stark that the patients that [are] being admitted are either too young to be vaccinated or they’re unvaccinated.”

Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Executive Order No. 2 eliminating the statewide mask mandate went into effect Monday, leaving many districts scrambling over their next steps.

Foley understands the COVID-19 fatigue people may be experiencing and says it’s too early to tell the impact the removal of the mandate will have on pediatric cases.

“We don’t know yet what that’s going to do because we haven’t lived through it. We have our suspicions, but in general, we feel it’s safest to wear masks to limit the spread of the disease,” he said.

He says the move to mandate masks came as a precaution because the one thing that can be controlled in the pandemic is the level of exposure between people.

“We wear a seatbelt in the off chance that you’re going to be in a car accident. Most people are never in a car accident and they’re perfectly safe driving around, but you wear a seatbelt every single day just because you can’t control everybody else,” he said. “The same idea with wearing a mask. You can’t control who you come in contact with, who’s walking around, what child is sitting next to what child, but if everybody is wearing a mask, we sort of limit the risk.”

As school districts make decisions over the future of masks in schools, Foley says parents should make their own judgments before sending their kids out the door.

“Try to listen to their trusted sources for information,” he said. “The science points to wearing masks as a good way to try and prevent giving and getting this infection. And I would suggest you wear a mask both for adults and children.”

Doctors say mask mandates helped control the spread of the virus and some districts have chosen to keep a mask mandate.