Video source: YouTube, CBS This Morning
Less than a month into the new school year, at least 90,000 students across the US have been forced to quarantine after contracting COVID-19 or being exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus.
According to an analysis by The Hill, the infections have occurred in 19 different states as many school districts resume in-person learning after a year of virtual instruction.
The infections also come amid a continuing surge in cases driven by the highly-infectious Delta variant, which is now the dominant strain in the US, spreading rapidly in areas with poor vaccination rates.
Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and Texas are among the states seeing the largest numbers of students pulled from the classroom.
The Hill noted that, while reports of students quarantining have been most prevalent in the South — where vaccination rates continue to lag — school districts in other states, like Hawaii, California, Michigan, Kansas and Illinois, are also struggling with the same issue.
Since COVID-19 vaccines have not yet been approved for individuals under the age of 12, public health experts have said safety protocols, like masks and social distancing, are crucial to protect children.
Further, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends indoor masking for all students, teachers, staff and visitors in K-12 schools.
A number of GOP-led states, however, have blocked school districts from implementing face covering guidelines, arguing that the decision of whether or not to mask up is a personal one and should be determined by parents.
Over the last month, seven states have enacted bans on mask mandates or allowed parents to opt out their children — Iowa, Tennessee, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Arizona and Texas.
Last week, a Florida judge knocked down the state’s order banning local school boards from implementing mask mandates, saying that Gov. Ron DeSantis’s edict does not “pass constitutional muster.”
Even as Republican officials continue to lead the charge against masking in schools, recent polling has found 60% of Americans support mask requirements for students and teachers.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), more than 180,000 children became infected with coronavirus between Aug. 12 and 19, a number that accounts for nearly 4% of the 4.5 million pediatric COVID-19 cases reported since the start of the pandemic.
Children now represent 1 out of 5 new cases in the past week, with 1,400 of them hospitalized, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Source: Equities News