The epidemic forces parents to worry about another uncertain school year


Then there were those parents, sadly I was sure, whispering about how this could happen by the end of the school year.

Nobody knew back when the schools would reopen, and here’s a truth I don’t want to accept – no one knows now.

Like so many parents, I am desperate for some clarity. I want to hope I also want to plan.

Should we budget for additional child care again next year, if there is no in-school? Or should we find ways to get back to work? Should we sign up for a summer camp? Then, the hardest part, what do we tell our children when they look us in the eye and ask oh-when they can have a birthday party and football game and sleepovers and other rites unfit to pass that they reject are doing? How much do we have to say anymore?

Parents, caregivers, children: We don’t know right now.

How to distance children for more distance education

High case rates, new editions, teacher union talks, and detailed and costly protocols for safe schooling all complicate our children’s return to pre-pandemic life.

Experts agree that a widely available pediatric vaccine will simplify the process, but we do not know when we can expect it and whether it is necessary for safe withdrawal.

Research status on children

A student walks the halls between classes on January 25, Colorado's first day of learning at Arvada West High School.

Now that Kovid-19 vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective in adults, pharmaceutical companies have started studying the same vaccines in children. Researchers are currently focusing on teens and periods over time, working their way up to younger children as safety in older children proves in clinical trials.

“From an ethics point of view, you don’t want to start studying medicine with vulnerable populations like children and pregnant women until you prove safety and efficacy in the adult population,” said a pediatric infectious disease specialist and medical Dr. . Larry Kosiolek explained. Ann & Robert H. of Chicago Director of infection prevention and control at Lurie Children’s Hospital.

Children over 16 years of age were included in adult trials, and the Pfizer / Bioentech vaccine is now approved for ages 16 and older. (The modern vaccine is approved for adults 18 and older.) Their vaccination is a matter of vaccine availability – yet another point of uncertainty.

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Children between the ages of 12 and 17 are currently being studied, although the time lines as to those results may not be clear. Children under 12 years of age remain to be studied, but things are moving fast.

“There are no American studies that have gone down in those age ranges, and the exact time line to start studying on young children is not available,” Dr. Said Evan Anderson, a pediatrician at Emory University and a physician at Children’s Healthcare in Atlanta. .

Older teenagers may be vaccinated

If you are 16 years old at home, there is a good chance that they will get vaccinated in time for the new school year this fall. But it is increasingly doubtful whether vaccination – and a second follow-up shot – will be in time for summer camp.

They are 12 and up in the row, and have a good chance of seeing a vaccine in time for the next school year, which will make them more likely to return to school.

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Have children 12 and under? Do not rely on a vaccine in time for a fall.

“It is possible that the age group will qualify as late summer or early fall, but this may be optimistic. But even if they occur, it will take several months or more for the vaccine to be delivered.”

Vaccinations to preschool will take longer, possibly not until 2022. Nevertheless, many preschools have managed to remain safely open during the epidemic.

Anderson still believes it is still possible for primary schoolchildren to receive the vaccine for the next school year, “but that window is closing rapidly.”

Herd immunity and school reopenings

OK. Not stopping our breath for vaccines under time for those 12 and next school year. But what is the effect on this age group, it will probably go to school next year?

There is increasing evidence that schools can be opened safely for all, If They have the ability to follow the recommended protocol. As we all have learned, it is a big “if” that leaves us, yes, more uncertainty.

Extensive vaccination and herd immunity will remove a lot of risk even if schools do not follow these protocols. Is vaccination enough for adults to regain immunity and reduce risks? Or is it unsafe until the children are also vaccinated?

At this, the experts are divided.

A widely distributed pediatric vaccine should be a priority, Anderson believes.

“For us to get out of epidemic mode completely, we need to make sure that our children are competent, and what, get a vaccine,” he explained. “Otherwise you have a persistent stockpile of children who are susceptible to Kovid-19. We are likely to find a continuous transmission among young children and leapfrogs of the virus to other non-populous people or individuals from this group.”

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They worry that children may give it to vaccinated adults who may not respond to the vaccine. He also worries about children falling ill; While Kovid-19 is much less dangerous for children, it is not risk-free. The number of children who died from Kovid-19 last year was particularly similar to the deadly flu season. “We vaccinate them for the flu,” he said.

The American Center for Disease Control and Prevention held its advisory committee meeting on vaccination practices on 27 January. Dr. Emily Erbelding, director of the division of microbiology and infectious diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that “the pediatric burden of disease is significant,” that “there is an odds ratio among children in minority communities,” and “natural While waiting for the effects of the herd, “there will be a constant burden.”

Will vaccinated adults reduce the risk of children?

Other experts want to emphasize that the chances of getting Kovid-19 on children being vaccinated will be significantly reduced.

“Regarding Kovid-19 in children, the highest risk of exposure to children is coming from those who care for them in their homes,” explained Kokiolek. “We know that if we vaccinate parents against paratitis (whooping cough), for example, it can prevent it in infants. We call it cocooning, and it protects children by creating a web of immunity. There is a way to do it. “

If you take into account all those who have already contracted coronovirus and associate that factor with those who are likely to get the vaccine in the next six months, then it seems like we The pediatric vaccine will receive immunity to the herd, Drs. Paul Offit, Director of the Vaccine Education Center and Professor of Pediatrics at the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia.

How will children be affected by school closures in the long run?

“You probably don’t need to get vaccinated to prevent children from spreading,” he said.

For now, the teachers are not sure. Some are already calling for vaccination of teachers and students before returning to work. Many others await the leadership of scientists and public health officials.

Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, said that it is possible that a safe reopening for all could be a vaccine for children, “but we don’t have science on it yet. I’m a science teacher, and that’s why I You know. We need to hear the pros on that. We are not making a statement yet. “

Live with uncertainty

“What I’m telling you (at the end of January) may not be accurate very soon, considering how fast it’s moving,” Kokoliak said. This sentiment is echoed by many of his medical colleagues. There are so many unknowns, so many variables, and they are all subject to change. Which leads us to more uncertainty.

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There is a certain relief in accepting uncertainty and putting a stop to speculation. It only reminds us to make plans that can be broken easily, and to avoid counting anything that would break our children’s hearts, it should be canceled.

It also leads us to imagine what the probability of having primary school children at home is 12 months, and what, if anything, you might be able to do to make it better for your family. This may include realizing the extent of DIY-ing through our epidemic and fighting for more structural support; A Marshall Plan for Moms, Maybe?

I hesitate to suggest that this is an opportunity to teach children about uncertainty, because I am not sure that our children have any more lessons from this fursluginer (“Yiddish for a piece of junk”) epidemic. Necessity, as my first birth refers to it. At this point, the children have been given all the lessons possible.

Children appreciate honesty, however. Tell the older children that you don’t know if they are going back to school this spring. If they are younger, tell them that you do not know if they are going to camp or going back to school next.

Tell them that a lot of good, hardworking people are doing what they can as soon as possible. Will they succeed? Ultimately, yes. We do not know when.

Alyssa Strauss Is a regular contributor to CNN, where she writes about politics and the culture of fatherhood.

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