CARMEL, Calif. (KION) Concerns over kids returning to school for full, in-person learning this school year prompted the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System to host a livestream event that addresses some of the questions parents have on Wednesday.
Part of the issue includes the raging Delta Variant, which has led to an uptick in cases on the Central Coast.
The Carmel Unified School District announced they will be welcoming back students to full, in-person learning starting August 9 this year, even as children under 12 are still unable to be vaccinated.
California is pushing for a "back to normal" effort by educators, even as some COVID-19 safety rules will still remain.
The majority of pediatric groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, are recommending that children return to in-person schooling.
"Mostly because of the concerns to their social development," said Dr. Carla Rosal, a family medicine physician at SVMH.
With the Delta Variant pushing up cases across the nation, mostly among unvaccinated people, schools are especially vulnerable to outbreaks.
Currently, only people 12 and older are able to get vaccinated. But health experts say in-person learning for children is essential.
"As long as measures are being taken to help reduce the spread of the virus such as the distancing and the masking, they consider it sufficiently safe to go back to school," said Dr. Rosal.
In Carmel, indoor masking for all students will be required, masks will be options for everyone outdoors and masks will be required on the school bus.
Dr. Rosal says about half of the children who get infected with the coronavirus are asymptomatic. While outbreaks are school are possible, getting tested for COVID-19 will be key should someone test positive in the classroom.
Schools will have plans to mitigate the spread of the virus, and parents should contact their local school districts to find out more information.
If your child is able to be vaccinated, health experts say that's the best thing to do before the start of the school year.
"The current data states that the vaccines for children, at least the ones that have been in use (12-17) have been very safe. There have been some rare side effects such as Myocarditis. But this is again, very rare," said Dr. Rosal. "Overall, the millions of doses that have been administered have been the usual minor side effects such as arm pain, headaches, fevers, sometimes feeling a little out of it."
We do not have a date for when the Food and Drug Administration will greenlight any vaccinations for children under 12 years of age. Pfizer is currently conducting trials for those groups.
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"The State of California has prioritized a full return to in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year," said the district on their website. "This will require the continued use of masks to eliminate physical distancing requirements, a major impediment to a full return. As a public entity, we will follow the rules set forth by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH)and the California Department of Education (CDE)."
The school district listed some of the rules they'll follow for COVID-19 safety during the school year:
- Masks are required for all students when indoors and for adults when students are present.
- When outdoors, masks will be optional for everyone.
- Masks will also be required on school buses.
KION's Josh Kristianto will have more tonight at 5 and 6 p.m.