Information, Tips, and Advice for Parents from Dr. Reginald Washington, Chief Medical Officer at HealthONE’s Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children in Denver.
It is that time of year for Denver-area children and families – many of whom may be experiencing those back-to-school butterflies – to return to class. Pediatric experts routinely provide helpful advice to help ease the transition from summer to classroom. This year, however, parents may be more nervous as in-person learning resumes. The COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of the Delta variant have many families asking how best to protect their school-age children, especially those under 12 who cannot yet be vaccinated. Here is some important information that you can share with parents and families in your communities.
About the Delta Variant: The Delta variant is more easily transmitted to children and adults, which means we all should remain vigilant. The Delta variant may generate more serious symptoms. Sadly, there has been a recent uptick in hospitalizations among children.
What Parents Can Do: Have children ages 12 and older vaccinated against COVID-19. These vaccines were created to save lives. For all children, but especially those under 12, encourage frequent handwashing, social distancing, and mask wearing. Practice these habits at home together so kids are ready to repeat them at school. The American Academy of Pediatrics and other organizations recommend masks in schools as the most effective way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Some districts will be requiring masks, others are recommending them—encourage your children to wear one.
What if a Child Gets Sick: If your child is sick, keep them home. Do not send them to school where they can pass any illness on to classmates and adults.If a child has a fever for more than a day or two or their symptoms progress, seek medical advice.
Denver-area hospitals are reporting an increase in RSV, a viral infection that causes flu-like symptoms and can easily be mistaken for COVID-19. Get medical attention for a sick child to help you determine if COVID-19 testing or other intervention is recommended.
Additional Actions Parents Can Take
Create a ‘vaccination bubble’: Kids under 12 cannot be vaccinated but most people around them can. Ensure adolescents and adults in your family are vaccinated. Fortunately, most teachers, school staff, and healthcare workers are already contributing to this vaccination bubble by getting their vaccination. Together we can reduce chances of the virus spreading to anyone, including children.
Have a quarantine plan: If you are notified that your child has a potential COVID-19 exposure, the school or the health department will provide guidance. It is still helpful to have a proactive plan in place that addresses:
- Who will stay with the child while they are home from school?
- How will you explain the situation and minimize a child’s fears?
- How can you reduce viral transmission within your household?
Support is Here
Northwest Douglas County Chamber & EDC members recognize the challenges facing families right now. Parents and guardians, please consider your employer, the Northwest Douglas County business community, schools, and your local hospital systems as partners in making this school year a success. We are here for you!