Norfolk pediatrician, school board member optimistic about full return to the classroom

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Posted at 5:30 AM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 05:30:19-04

NORFOLK, Va. – A Norfolk pediatrician, who serves as a member of the Norfolk School Board, said she hopes for a full return to the classroom for the 2021-2022 school year.

“I really, really hope that we can return for full, five day a week, in-person instruction, because I know that is desperately needed for our students,” said Dr. Noelle Gabriel. “It's difficult to do the hybrid learning right now. It's challenging, and I do hope that we can return face-to-face five days a week.”

Dr. Gabriel, a pediatrician at Tidewater Children’s Associates, has served on the Norfolk School Board since 2012. She said she anticipates students and teachers will still need to wear masks, social distance and enforce hand hygiene for a full return to the classroom next school year. She also hopes school employees and children, when they’re eligible, get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“I will sign my children up to receive the vaccine once it's available, and I would recommend to other families to do the same,” said Dr. Gabriel, a mother of four. “I believe that both Pfizer and Moderna have gone through the rigorous clinical trials. I've looked at some of the clinical trials myself.”

Dr. Gabriel also issued a word of caution for families eager to travel during summer break.

“I definitely support families trying to get together as much as possible in the safest way that they can,” said Dr Gabriel. “The general rule of thumb is if you're vaccinated and your family's vaccinated, you can be inside without your masks on. If you're traveling with children, then obviously the best case scenario is to be outside since the children aren't vaccinated, but if you do need to be inside [and] if you want to be overly cautious, the children can wear a face mask.”

Dr. Gabriel said if children are showing signs of illness, like sniffles, fever or coughing, it is not a good idea to travel.