The most transmissible covid variant yet, the Omicron, has been sending more people to the hospitals and causing more schools to shut down. However, some schools remain open, so what is the right decision? Is it safe to send children to school and extracurricular activities? CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leanna Wen has been interviewed by Katia Hetter to answer these questions.
Dr. Wen has explained that if in-person school is a crucial part of a family’s routine, she believes that it is fine to go to in-person school. However, the child must be able to understand and follow safety measures successfully, and the schools have to support social distancing and maintain a strong attempt to decrease the number of covid cases. Dr. Wen is aware that not all schools are able to hit all the different layers that add to protection such as: mask wearing, twice-weekly testing, ventilation, and everyone being vaccinated. If this is the case, students can still attend in-person school, but take action on what is in one’s control to reduce risk. For example, to send a child to a loosely protected school environment, the child must protect themselves by being vaccinated and by wearing a high-quality mask, either a N95 or KN95.
It is known that children under the age of 5 are not allowed to be vaccinated yet. Even though young unvaccinated children show a low risk for severe illness from the variante, Dr. Wen has advised families with younger children to take even more precautions to prevent them from getting infected. Dr. Wen’s family of a 4 year old and 21 month old, she takes “common sense precautions” to keep them both safe. For example, a zoo would be fine to visit because people can easily socially distance, while in a movie theatre, little ventilation and packed seats may make the virus more easy to catch.
There is one thing that Dr. Wen can’t emphasize enough, get your children vaccinated. Vaccines will help reduce the likelihood of infection, and make going to in-person school less risky.