Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Families' Anxiety Skyrocketing Amid Surge of Delta Variant

Folks are worried, although by now Delta's just hype. Yet, for some families, any risk risk is too much.

At LAT, "Delta variant is sucking the joy out of back-to-school 2021":

Back-to-school 2021, with California campuses fully open for 6 million children, was supposed to herald relief — even celebration — for a mostly normal school year ahead. But a surge in the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus has reignited parents’ anxiety — and, for many, the safety and quality of schooling once again feel uncertain and tenuous.

“I wanted to be excited about a new school year, but now I am having to think: ‘Am I putting our health at risk by going to school in person?’” said Irma Villalpando, who has two high school daughters at the Maywood Center for Enriched Studies. “I am feeling very sad because I think that it is going to be another very difficult year.”

Some parents have frantically explored limited online options. And questions over safety protocols are taking on an urgent tone: What happens if someone at my child’s school tests positive? What happens if my child is exposed — will their class be quarantined? Will their school close? Are all teachers vaccinated? What about coronavirus testing?

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health disclosed last week that there were seven outbreaks in youth settings during the final week of July — the most since December. Most were associated with youth sports — and heavily associated with poor health safety practices, such as inconsistent mask wearing, lack of physical distancing and failing to isolate sick individuals and their close contacts.

Recorded cases and hospitalizations are up for children — although without any associated deaths, said county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. Documented cases among children through age 11 increased from 47 to 319 when comparing the two-week period ending June 26 with the two weeks ending July 24, according to county data. For ages 12 to 17, the number of cases rose from 34 to 211. Hospitalizations remained rare, about 1 in 100 cases among those 12 to 17.

“We recognize that, given our recent increases in cases, there is anxiety around school reopening,” Ferrer said.

Even so, there’s no indication the Delta variant will stop campuses from reopening for full-time, in-person classes — albeit with safety measures, most notably an indoor mask mandate and, in some places, outdoors as well.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday uttered a refrain common to him and other political and education leaders.

“Over the course of the next few weeks, we’re getting all our kids safely back into in-person instruction,” Newsom said at an event highlighting reopened campuses in San Bernardino. “And we’re doing it in a sustainable way.”

Ferrer, L.A. County Office of Education Supt. Debra Duardo and others spoke in similar terms during an online forum for parents earlier in the week, saying that returning to campus is vital because it offers direct academic intervention, crucial social interaction and ramped-up mental health support.

“We are confident schools have done an excellent job following all the mitigation strategies to prevent the spread of COVID,” Duardo said...

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