LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - With schools trying to figure out how to make the upcoming school year work, whether it’s through in-person learning or virtual instruction, parents are also grappling with the fear of not knowing if it’s safe to send their children back to the classroom.
Dr. Kris Bryant is a pediatric infectious disease specialist with Norton Children’s Hospital and the University of Louisville system. Bryant says parents’ fears may be warranted because children are not immune to the coronavirus.
“We know that most children who get coronavirus have mild disease and some don’t have any symptoms at all,” Bryant explained to WAVE 3 News.
Bryant says there have only been a small number of children who got severely sick from the virus and need to be hospitalized.
”Children with underlying health conditions are at risk to be sicker,” he said. “There have been a very small number of children in the US and worldwide who have died from coronavirus.”
Bryant says children make up a small percentage of COVID-19 cases, and in Kentucky, they make up about 8% of the more than 20,600 cases that have been confirmed in the state.
”Have we been seeing more cases in children in our community, absolutely,” Bryant said.
Since kids haven’t been in school since March, Bryant says it begs the question of how kids are contracting the virus now. The doctor says anyone can look at social media and get answers fairly quickly.
“They are spending time with groups of people and we’ve all seen vacation pictures,” he explained.
As far as if schools should reopen in the fall, Bryant’s opinion is that in-person learning is important for children. She says ideally, if and when schools choose to open their campuses and classrooms, COVID-19 cases in the area need to be low.
The CDC has also issued guidelines to keep children safe in the classroom.
”There are a lot of examples that suggest that children are less likely to transmit to each other,” Bryant said. “We as adults need to prioritize safe behaviors so we don’t bring COVID home.”
Children are not the only concern when schools reopen. CNN reports nearly a third of teachers nationwide are over the age of 50, they are more vulnerable to fatal infections.