RICHMOND, Va. -- Health experts are pointing to an alarming trend as many students prepare to return to in-person learning. They're seeing COVID-19 outbreaks in places where children gather and play.
Picking the perfect backpack is a big deal for Garcia Levere's elementary school-aged children. An even bigger deal for their father is getting them back in the classroom.
"They don't have to stay at home anymore," said Levere. "It's easy for them to focus in class."
While Levere is optimistic about his kids' quality of learning improving, he's not turning a blind eye to a recent coronavirus surge.
"With the delta variant coming, we still have some concerns," he said.
This comes as epidemiologist Rebecca Lewis with the Richmond-Henrico Health Districts says she's tracking outbreaks among young kids. She said hotspots include daycare centers, summer camps, and school camps.
"It's not purposeful. Little ones are just playing and unfortunately, maybe someone ends up testing positive," Lewis said.
She listed a couple reasons for the trend. Parents are heading back to work and sending their kids off to group settings, restrictions have relaxed so parents aren't taking as many safety precautions, and young children are ineligible for a COVID-19 vaccine currently.
"Just remind parents that they may be vaccinated, so they may be protected, but our little ones aren't," she explained.
Even among eligible age groups, vaccinations lag in 12-15-year-olds. In Virginia, only 36% are fully vaccinated. That's compared to 49% of 16-17-year-olds.
Lewis recommends bringing back some stricter precautions that most people followed earlier in the pandemic.
"It's more likely that it could spread in a congested area where there's lots of people," said Lewis. "So just take that extra measure of putting the mask back on because this delta variant is just a little crazy."
It's something Levere will keep in mind as his children go back to school.
"Hopefully it will go down, especially when they are able to get vaccinations in their age group," he said.
Virginians age 12+ are eligible for COVID-19 vaccine. Pre-registration is no longer required, so go to Vaccine Finder to search for specific vaccines available near you or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-275-8343).
Have You Been Fully Vaccinated?
People are considered fully vaccinated:
- 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
- 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine
How to Protect Yourself and Others When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated
COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from getting sick. Based on what we know about COVID-19 vaccines, people who have been fully vaccinated can start to do some things that they had stopped doing because of the pandemic.
We’re still learning how vaccines will affect the spread of COVID-19. After you’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you should keep taking precautions—like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, and avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces—in public places until we know more.
These recommendations can help you make decisions about daily activities after you are fully vaccinated. They are not intended for healthcare settings.