COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - As the new school year starts for students across the Chattahoochee Valley, we are learning more about COVID and kids. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there is a 90% increase in reported coronavirus cases among children in the past four weeks.
“When the kids go back to school in-person, we’re going to see a spike in cases,” said Pamela Kirkland, Columbus Health Department’s Communications Director.
Kirkland suggests for parents to make sure their kids are eating healthy and building up their immune systems. If your child is feeling sick, Kirkland says to keep them home.
Muscogee County has already seen 820 new cases in the past two weeks as the new school year approaches.
“If that were in some of the other smaller counties, they definitely wouldn’t want to open up the schools, but in some of the smaller counties the case number for the last two weeks has only been about 10 or 20,” said Kirkland.
The American Pediatrics Association reports nearly 180,000 new child COVID cases in about the past month.
“School age children, I’d say, and that goes up to high school are going to be healthier and more able to handle the COVID infection,” Kirkland said.
With some Georgia schools already welcoming students back, including Harris County, Governor Brian Kemp said schools will not be mandated to require masks.
“However, the schools are free to implement a mandate on their own and make that actually part of your dress code if you will and that’s one way they can enforce that,” Kirkland explained.
One school district requiring masks on all school properties and buses is Muscogee County. Students will learn virtually for at least the first three and a half weeks of school, but once in-person learning starts in any district, Kirkland says a spike in cases is expected.
“It’s just like when we started testing more. We were going to see higher numbers because more people were getting tested and that’s just part of the equation. So, there is going to be some spread. There are going to be children who are going to be sick,” she said.
Whether learning virtually or in-person, Kirkland has a message for parents.
“Let them know that they’re going to be safe . They’re going to be cared for. Get them a mask with unicorns or whatever on it and go from there,” she said.
Kirkland says hand-washing is on effective step children can take to help prevent spreading the virus to their families when they come home from school.