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Back-to-school health, safety tips amid rise in COVID-19 cases

Virus Outbreak Mask Guidelines
Posted at 6:46 AM, Jul 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-29 12:55:54-04

Students are headed back to school for the 2021-2022 school year, but coronavirus is again a cause for concern.

Data shows a rise in COVID-19 cases among young people and officials at school districts are keeping a close eye on the numbers.

We asked ABC15 Health Insider Dr. Janice Johnston with Redirect Health what her thoughts are on the reversal of mask mandates, with some schools, cities, and businesses requiring masks regardless of vaccination status.

“I think it’s actually a good idea to do so,” Dr. Johnston said. She noted that most coronavirus cases showing up now involve those who are not vaccinated, but some “breakthrough cases” have been reported in people who have been vaccinated.

Q: As a doctor, what are your thoughts on recommendations that students should wear masks in classrooms?

A: “We’re not surprised to see that this recommendation is coming for children. Children are not vaccinated presently,” Dr. Johnston said. “Kids are not typically going to get as sick…but of course, they can transmit it to others.”

RELATED: Superintendent of Public Instruction encourages families to adhere to CDC guidelines

Q: What other mitigation measures would you like to see schools in Arizona take?

A: Dr. Johnston said she’d like to see smaller groups to help reduce the spread of the virus. For example, last school year, some schools were limiting recess time to one class at a time, or making sure only smaller groups had contact with one another. However, now, some schools are having entire grades or multiple classrooms gather which could make contact tracing more difficult if a virus case were reported.

Health Insider: COVID-19 concerns with kids

Q: What makes the Delta variant more concerning?

A: “Delta variant is the predominant variant we’re seeing…It’s more transmissible and does seem to be more virulent, or can get you sicker.”

Q: What are you seeing with patients right now?

A: “We’ve seen an uptick in cases, people calling for concerns, exposures,” Dr. Johnston said.

Q: What do you say to folks sitting on the sideline without a vaccine?

A: “The number one thing we would say is the vaccine is just absolutely highly effective in terms of preventing severe disease, hospitalization, and death.”

Health Insider Q&A: Coronavirus concerns as kids to back to school

The mission of ABC15's Health Insider series is to dive deeper into the things impacting your health and the health of those around you. We're going in-depth with expert advice from people who know it, see it every day in their work and study it. Have a story idea? Contact the team at HealthInsider@abc15.com.

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