LOS ANGELES – With children returning to schools, there are growing concerns about potential exposure to COVID-19 in the classroom.
Experts say there isn’t cause for alarm yet, but the rising infections are already disrupting our everyday lives.
Some kids are being forced to miss classes and coronavirus outbreaks have caused issues with some extracurricular activities.
Santa Paula High School in Ventura County had to cancel its upcoming varsity football game scheduled against La Canada High School after 15 of its team members tested positive for COVID-19. Two other Ventura County football teams had to cancel games for very similar reasons.
Many parents have expressed concerns about missing school and the potential for spreading the virus to other family members.
“At this point, all the kids are vaccinated, and we think it’s more like a bad flu. We aren’t really worried about the medical consequences; it’s more about how many days of school they are going to miss, which is now becoming more and more important in middle and high school,” said Rayman Mathoda, a parent of a student at La Canada High School.
“I think at this point, it’s just a minor inconvenience, having kids at home for the whole week,” added Avantika Shahi.
In Los Angeles County, the number of new COVID-19 outbreaks at worksites has tripled in the last month, and at local schools, COVID-19 outbreaks have risen by 43% within the most recent tracking period. The rate at which reported COVID-19 tests are coming back positive is up to 14% across California. In comparison, at the start of the summer, only 4% of cases were positive.
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the other day that we shouldn’t consider the current rise a wave, but more like a bomb. She says a wave indicates a steeper increase.
Hospitalizations are also up, but they haven’t reached the levels we saw at the same time last year.
Dr. Anne Rimoin, a professor of epidemiology at UCLA and an expert in infectious diseases, says COVID-19 is going to “be with us for a while,” likening it to the weather—when it rains, you bring a rain jacket; when COVID-19 spikes, you bring your mask with you and take other preventative measures.
“This is the new phase of starting to figure out how to live with COVID-19 but also being very mindful of what’s going on around us,” Rimoin said. “There are so many tools that we have at our disposal now that we didn’t have at the beginning of the pandemic. We’re not going back to where we were at the beginning or even where we were last year; we have so many more tools available to us.”
Rimoin says there’s no reason to panic, but these cases can escalate quickly. This is also a good time for older individuals to bring a mask to places like the grocery store, airports and other crowded indoor spaces. Additional guidance is also expected regarding the possibility of a new COVID-19 booster shot.