Back to School: Growing concerns among pediatricians surrounding the Delta variant

Local News

LUBBOCK, Texas — Lubbock-area pediatricians talked Tuesday about growing concerns surrounding the Delta COVID-19 variant.

While children were reported at lower risk for severe illness due to COVID, there was not enough research to say if it was the same for the Delta variant—leaving many parents unsure of how to handle this upcoming year.

“There’s a lot of discussion around school reopening and a lot of anxiety, I’m sure, around school reopening,” Dr. Lara Johnson, a local pediatrician, said.

As the first day of school approaches, many pediatricians faced growing concerns about the year ahead.

“We’re concerned that we may see an uptick in cases,” Johnson said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while children are less likely than adults to develop severe illness because of COVID-19, they are still at risk for developing severe complications from the virus.

Pediatricians said there was still a lot they did not know about how the Delta variant affects children. They said some evidence suggested children are at lower risk for severe illness from the Delta variant, but that does not mean parents should not worry about the coming school year.

“We should be very concerned because Delta variant is something that spreads easier, the risk is low for kids as far as serious illness, it still is present. They can still be the ones that spread it,” Dr. Kyle Howard, a pediatrician with University Medical Center, said.

The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommended indoor masking for all students.

“I think nothing should have changed as far as our safety precautions,” Howard said.

Governor Greg Abbott banned schools from imposing any mask mandates, leaving it up to the individual to decide—something that has left parents and doctors concerned.

“Just because it’s not as high risk as somebody like me or an older person getting COVID, it’s still a risk. Nobody wants their kid to be at risk,” Jessica Tullar Caroom, a parent with a Ph.D. in Epidemiology, said.

Pediatricians recommend a multi-layer cloth mask or a surgical mask for children being sent to school. They also mentioned making sure to keep children home from school if they showed any signs of sickness. These tips can significantly decrease children’s risk and others’ risk of exposure.

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