Health officials urge masks, vaccinations as COVID-19 cases rise in schools

Miami Valley News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Leaders in Ohio children’s hospitals are weighing in on how the delta variant is affecting kids and warn that rising cases could impact children’s ability to stay in the classroom.

Health and school officials said it should be everyone’s goal to keep kids learning in-person.

“The reality that we’re doing this for a third school year is frustrating, but we’re doing our best to really protect our kids,” Beavercreek City Schools superintendent Paul Otten said.

Otten said the district is seeing more cases in the first three weeks of school than they were last school year.

The district’s mask requirement for everyone went into effect this week.

“I think everybody wanted to be in school without masks and just have that normal school year, unfortunately, we don’t find outselves in that position,” Otten said.

Health leaders with children’s hospitals across the state say the delta variant is not only more contaigous, it’s affecting children at a higher rate than last year’s strain.

These leaders said the debate over masks in schools is what’s putting kids most at risk.

“For some reason, we are prioritizing kids not wearing masks over kids not getting COVID, and that’s very challenging for us as health care providers to understand,” Cincinnati Children’s chief of staff Dr. Patty Manning-Courtney said.

These doctors said it’s going to take a community effort of vaccinations, wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing to make sure kids stay in the classroom.

“We as Ohioans have to get together and feel like this is important, for kids being in school and not getting the mental health issues from all the challenges from last year is important,” Dayton Children’s chief medical officer and vice president Dr. Adam Mezoff said. “It’s not going to happen safely unless we do all the things we know what to do.”

While some districts are noticing all-time high case numbers, because of following guidance the number of quarantines has gone down, which had the greatest impact on learning last year.

“That’s kind of a drag on our staff and students as well too, especially when our goal is to, which I’m sure is the same as other districts, you want to keep students in-person and keep them learning,” Springboro Schools communications coordinator Scott Marshall said.

Statewide, children’s hospitals are reporting more kids are now being hospitalized for COVID-19, with 70 children hospitalized statewide.

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