LUBBOCK, Texas — Pediatricians in the Lubbock area spoke Tuesday about growing concerns about the Delta COVID-19 variant.
While children have been reported to have a lower risk of serious illness from COVID, there wasn’t enough research to say whether it was the same for the Delta variant, leaving many parents unsure how to handle this upcoming year.
“There is a lot of discussion about the reopening of the school and I’m sure there is a lot of fear surrounding the reopening of the school,” said Dr. Lara Johnson, a local pediatrician.
As the first day of school approaches, many pediatricians faced increasing concerns about the coming year.
“We are concerned that we will see an increase in the number of cases,” Johnson said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while children are less likely than adults to develop serious illness from COVID-19, they are still at risk of developing serious complications from the virus.
Pediatricians said they still didn’t know much about the impact of the Delta variant on children. They said there is some evidence that children are at a lower risk of severe disease from the Delta variant, but that doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t worry about the school year ahead.
“We should be very concerned because the Delta variant is something that spreads more easily, the risk to children is low as far as severe disease, it’s still there. They could still be the ones spreading it,” said Dr. Kyle Howard, a pediatrician at the University Medical Center.
The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics both recommended indoor masks for all students.
“I don’t think anything should have changed in our security measures,” Howard said.
Governor Greg Abbott banned schools from imposing mask mandates, leaving it to the individual to decide — something parents and doctors are concerned about.
“Just because it’s not as high-risk as someone like me or an elderly person getting COVID, it’s still a risk. Nobody wants their child to be in danger,” Jessica Tullar Carroom, a parent with a Ph.D. in epidemiology, said.
Pediatricians recommend a multi-layer cloth mask or a surgical mask for children sent to school. They also said to ensure that children stay home from school if they showed signs of illness. These tips can significantly reduce children’s and others’ risk of exposure.