As parents and caregivers grapple with whether to send their children to school for in-person learning this fall, Dr. Dara Kass, Yahoo News' medical contributor, explains how you can weigh the coronavirus risks based on CDC guidance.
DARA KASS: A lot of parents, like me, are wrestling with a decision about whether or not to send our children to in-person school or not. So we figured we would address some of the concerns you might be having and give you a few tools to use to make the decision for yourself. There are some things you should consider. The first is, how bad is the coronavirus spread in my community?
If the positive test rate in your community is higher than 5%, that means that more than five out of every 100 tests that are being done are positive. That is a higher test rate than most educators, administrators, and public health officials believe is safe for children to go to school. The other testing number you need to pay attention to is, how long does it take a test to come back?
If your child is sent home from school because they have a cough or a fever or they're short of breath and you need to find out, do they have the coronavirus? If testing in your community takes greater than 10 days, it is probably not a good idea to send your children to school. Are you comfortable with your school's plan? Do you know who to ask if you have a question?
There are a lot of considerations about how your school is going to manage the potential of a coronavirus infection or how to manage students if they have to send children home. Is there a health monitor? What are the policies from the district, from the city, and even your state? We do know that there are children who are higher risk for consequences of being infected from any virus, including the coronavirus.
So if your child has a genetic disease, a heart disease, a lung disease, maybe had a transplant, you would probably consider doing virtual schooling until we have this virus more under control. We also know that children don't live by themselves. A lot of times, they live with parents or even grandparents who may be at risk for complications from the coronavirus. And even if those children don't get sick themselves, they get the virus and bring it home.
So if your child is not comfortable wearing a mask, remember that they could put themselves and other children at risk, and it's probably not the best idea to send them to in-person school until they're comfortable wearing a mask for the full day. The truth is, every parent, every teacher, every administrator wants to see kids back to full-time in-person school coming this fall. Unfortunately, with the virus out of control, in many American states and in many American cities, it probably isn't the best idea.
But in reality, nobody is going to be able to tell you what to do with your family. You need to make the decision based on who lives in your house, what the risk factors for your children are, how the virus is spreading in your community, and what access you have to testing. And if you have that information, you will make the right decision for your family.