Parents of school-age children should keep in mind that the risk is cumulative. Lowering your risk at home by avoiding crowds and closed public indoor spaces where you are unaware of others’ vaccination status can reduce the risk to the whole family. Paying attention to community transmission and vaccination rates, and wearing masks in risky situations can also help.
“Think about what you are in control of and what you can do yourself,” said Dr. Stuart. “Try to minimize unnecessary exposure. Think of school as an essential activity. School can be a source of risk, but it can minimize the other potential sources for the household. “
Home tests are also an option, though they can get expensive at around $ 12 per test. Regular tests of school-age children, at weekly intervals or before a family visit, can reassure parents when families spend time with people outside their home. While schools may adopt their own testing protocols, there is no general public health recommendation for regular home testing, which is not practical or affordable for most people. You can find more information about the home test here.
And of course, keep kids at home if they have respiratory symptoms and keep in mind that other respiratory viral infections, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), are also circulating.
What should parents do if their school district doesn’t have a mask policy?
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that everyone over 2 years of age wear masks in schools and care facilities in the fall. The CDC recently changed its guidelines to recommend masks for all children returning to school this fall, but school policies regarding masking and Covid precautions are set by state and vary widely. In Arkansas, state lawmakers have banned mask mandates and tied the hands of school board members who want local school principals to make decisions. Parents in New Jersey and California are suing to prevent mask obligations. And at a recent school council meeting in Orange County, Florida, parents argued over whether masks should be required in schools. The school board voted two weeks ago to end his mask mandate.
“With school going back to school and masking policy change and the numbers growing, I’ve literally got angina,” said Rebecca Jacques, an Orange County, Florida resident whose 11-year-old daughter is about to turn 12 but is winning. You do not need to be fully vaccinated by the start of school on August 10th. “You are responsible for creating a safe learning environment. What is certain about that? “
Most public health experts agree that masking is a good idea, and the CDC has said that masking requirements in schools are linked to about a 20 percent reduction in Covid-19 incidence. But even in schools that require a mask, children are never 100 percent compliant. And masks are just one of many possible precautions schools can take. Parents in non-masking school districts should learn what additional steps are being taken, including regular testing and ventilation. Parents can ask their own children to wear masks in schools, but masking is far less effective if most children don’t.