Baldwin County pediatricians are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases among children but, in general, those cases are not more severe, said Daren Scroggie, M.D., VP/CMIO Infirmary Health Associate Program Director Internal Medicine Residency at Thomas Hospital.
Scroggie said as parents, teachers and school administrators try to balance a normal return to school this fall the best approach is one that reacts to the current pandemic situation.
While some parents became enflamed last week when Baldwin County School Superintendent Eddie Tyler announced that masks would not be required, Scroggie said a blanket mask requirement is not the right answer either.
“This pandemic is fluid and changes quickly. Health care providers and government officials need to be open to adapting to what is actually happening rather than making predictions about how we want it to unfold,” he said.
At the moment Scroggie said, we appear to have a “highly contagious outbreak in the most under vaccinated state in the country.
“In the short term, a better policy would be to mask and encourage vaccinations until this wave passes,” Scroggie said.
His own children will return to school this fall with masks on. Parents who are considering staying home, possible for a second year, need to consider all the factors of their own situation, he said.
“My children will wear masks at school,” Scroggie said. “It’s not a simple yes/no answer and there is a lot of value to having children attend school in person versus virtually. Parents have to weigh the risks and benefits, and this may be a fluid situation as the rate of infection changes. Vaccine approval for children may help ease this worry but that may not come until the fall.”
Scroggie said schools will likely be a high-risk site for transmission since children under 12 cannot be vaccinated yet. Those unvaccinated children may be asymptomatic but can still transmit the infection.
Even if the rate of vaccinations increased exponentially in the coming days, it would take time for the effects to be seen in the number of cases.
In the meantime, interventions such as masking, social distancing, handwashing, cleaning and isolating infected individuals has been proven to slow the rate of spread.