Commentary by Dr, Charles Harris
School is back in session! We know just how excited parents must be about having their children back in the classroom. We can also imagine they are harboring a great deal of anxiety, fearful that their kids may soon be sent home to learn virtually. We share their concerns and sympathize with the position the COVID-19 virus has put us all in.
That having been said, we are confident with the safety measures the schools have put into place, that there are few places, besides home, where a child is safer. The primary danger to children are the decisions they and others make outside the classroom. Poor choices at home can wreak havoc at school.
Hamilton County is tracking a significant spike in new COVID-19 cases among children – especially school-aged kids. The surge is due in large part to what we call “super spreader events” – social events like graduations, weddings, and family reunions.
Take for example, the high school student who attends a slumber party and later tests positive for COVID-19. Now, not only does everyone who attended the party need to be quarantined for 14 days, but everyone who sits within six feet of that child at school does as well. In many cases, that can be upwards of 20 to 30 students.
For that reason, the Hamilton County Health Dept. would like to encourage families with students in school to self-isolate as much as possible. Please reconsider hosting or attending crowded events. Keep your social circles small. Postpone big milestones. And curb things like carpooling, slumber parties and pick-up basketball games. Limiting your exposure to large crowds could mean the difference between in-school and virtual instruction. The onus is on each and every one of us.
Dr. Charles Harris is health officer with the Hamilton County Health Dept.