It’s the first week of school for many students. This year will be the closest to what a normal school year looked like prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even as students return to a more traditional classroom experience, the risk of illness spreading in the classroom remains.
For many school districts, including Richland School District, masks and COVID-19 vaccinations are optional for students.
“Masks are a choice,” said RSD Director of Communications Ty Beaver. “Staff or students may choose to wear them if they wish to. Vaccinations are not required for students.”
Teachers, on the other hand, must have a medical or religious exemption to be unvaccinated.
School districts are also asking students to stay home if they are sick.
“If students test positive, or staff members test positive, they do need to stay home for a specified number of days,” Beaver said.
Benton Franklin Health District Health Officer Dr. Amy Person says COVID rates among children appear to be low.
“If we look at our testing data, the rates in children are very low,” she said. “But we don’t actually know if that means the rates of infection are low.”
To avoid getting sick in the first place, doctors are recommending students and teachers practice good hand hygiene. Dr. Person encourages parents to consider having their children vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Talk to your trusted medical professional, whether it’s your doctor or your pharmacist to make sure that you’re getting reliable information.”
There has been a significant increase in Monkeypox nationwide. However, Dr. Person doesn’t expect the classroom to be a place where there is a high risk of infection.
“There have been cases in children reported,” Dr. Person said. “Those are tending to be from household exposures, so kids getting exposed at home.”
Other ways students can stay healthy include getting enough sleep and eating healthy meals.
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