The school year has begun and as children return to in-person learning, we may see an increase in COVID-19 cases among them. Youngsters age 12 and older are eligible for the vaccine, but those age 11 and under must face the virus head-on. The key recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the same as what we heard at the beginning of the pandemic: mask up! With so many children gathering, there is an increase in the likelihood of exposure, symptom scares, and the possibility of COVID-19 coming home. Luckily, the CDC has advice.
For more than a year, we have been advised to wear masks, however, making sure a child wears one responsibly can be difficult. Cloth masks often considered more comfortable to wear, can come in a variety of patterns and designs. If your child is opposed to wearing a mask, try finding one that has their favorite superhero or animal on it. The best cloth mask to bring home is the kind with a built-in pocket for a filter to be inserted, which adds further protection.
Some of the symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those of common conditions like the sniffles – meaning that a runny nose could just be allergies, but it might be the virus. Therefore, always consult a doctor about your child’s condition and consider having them take a COVID-19 test if your doctor recommends it or if symptoms continue. If it turns out your child is sick with something like the common cold or the flu instead, staying home from school is still recommended. The severity of COVID-19 does not mean we should allow other illnesses to spread too.
If your child does test positive for COVID-19, try to limit their exposure to the entire household to halt its spread. For older children, isolating can be easily accomplished when compared to younger children. Additionally, if you have more than one child and a partner, consider splitting up the household – one parent with the ill child, one with the other. If your options for childcare are limited, try reaching out to fully vaccinated relatives and friends for assistance. COVID-19 travels through the air, so masking up at home will be necessary to stop the spread among family members. Fresh air from open windows, fans to increase circulation, and air purifiers can help as well. Lastly, wait until your child is no longer contagious before returning to public gatherings.
As of early August 2021, just under 50% of Texans have been vaccinated. Vaccination rates have slowed, but hospitalizations, new cases, and death rates have continued to increase. Because the Delta variant is spreading more easily among the unvaccinated, MAS Law recommends that you get vaccinated immediately if you are eligible.