Experts explain why returning to school is safe despite fears over Delta variant

To put it simply, a UCSF doctor says coronavirus "doesn't like kids."

Dustin Dorsey Image
Saturday, July 31, 2021
Experts explain why it's safe for kids to return to school
School is set to make a "full return," but how does the Delta variant change things? We spoke to local experts, who explain why it's safe.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Bay Area students will start going back to school in a matter of weeks, and districts are making sure they really will go back to school. They're making a pledge: no more remote learning this year.

That is bringing up anxieties in some students and parents, but experts are sharing information to put minds at ease.

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It may still be two weeks away, but it's never too early to get ready for school for third grade student Suhani Roonwal.

"I'm really excited to go back to school because, for the last year, I couldn't go to school and couldn't meet my friends and play with them," Roonwal said.

She's not the only one ready.

Today, Bay Area county superintendents announced their support for a full return to classrooms.

Suhani's parents are happy for her to get back after losing a year of social-emotional learning.

They trust her school's district to put in the proper protocols, but the recent surge of COVID-19 has given them some doubts.

"If school districts or management is making sure they are doing the best to avoid this situation, at this point in time, we are kind of okay," Bharat Roonwal said. "But if it continues even worse from here, yes, we will have concern and then we will have to stop sending our daughter to the school."

RELATED: Bay Area school districts ready for return to in-person learning despite COVID-19 Delta variant

UCSF infectious disease specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong understands the concern, but says the science proves the school setting is safe.

Despite students not being eligible to be vaccinated, the virus has shown low numbers of issues for young students and Dr. Chin-Hong says parents can relax while sending their kids back to the classroom.

"We're talking about a virus that doesn't like kids," Dr. Chin-Hong said. "There are very few ace-receptors, which are the landing pads the virus goes on to before entering the body, in kids compared to adults. That's why they are probably protected. You start off with not having a lot of biological reasons for the kids to be infected, you layer on protection of masks and it makes for a very safe environment."

Still, with counties like San Francisco set to send students back for the first time, there could be anxiety.

The Child Mind Institute suggests parents have a calm and open-ended conversation with their students and validate their anxious feelings if they have them.

"Kids look to parents and teachers for cues as to how to feel," Child Mind Institute Clinical Psychologist Dr. Jennifer Louie said. "We need to be role models for them for how to stay calm even when things are uncertain. That's just very important for them to see us be calm and then they can feel calm."

For more tips on how to handle the stress of a full return to the classroom, read the Child Mind Institute's full set of tips by clicking here.

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