Thousands of North Alabama students packed up their backpacks Wednesday morning and headed back to school.
Before classes even started, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported an increase in coronavirus cases among children.
That data reporting 72,000 children across the United States tested positive for the coronavirus last week. The week before, 39,000 children tested positive. The increase in cases, something doctors fear may grow as kids head back to school.
“Part of me is excited because I see the happiness on their face, they’re waiting to meet their teachers, friends, and learn new things, but as a parent and a physician, I am extremely scared and anxious,” said Gayatri Venkatraman.
Venkatraman is a parent first. She has two kids in Madison City Schools. Although she’s relieved Madison City Schools made masks mandatory indoors, she fears for other districts, as the Delta Variant rages on.
“With elementary school kids especially not vaccinated, we’re at a high risk of asymptomatic carriers and spreading the virus,” said Venkatraman.
During Wednesday’s Covid-19 briefing, Huntsville Hospital said there are three kids in the hospital with the virus.
“The schools that have masks in place are in good shape," said Dr. Aruba Arora, Madison County Medical Society President. "There taking mitigative measures, they're following the guidance, those schools that aren't the ones we're as concerned about."
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, since July, coronavirus positive cases in children have steadily increased.
“There’s a new variant that came in that is highly contagious,” said Venkatraman. “With summer coming, July fourth coming and school starting, lots of kids activities starting with each other and spreading.”
Dr. Venkatraman said as a doctor and a parent, she doesn’t want her children to see the anxiety she’s facing as she sends them off to school.
“It’s really hard to see what’s going on in the community, it’s hard for me to separate the physician in me and the parent in me,” Venkatraman. “I’m very anxious and nervous as much as you guys are, but I know what we can achieve together and I'm really hoping we all make the right decision.”
Doctor Venkatraman said for kids 5-years-old and older, she expects the Pfizer vaccine will be available for children in the fall. She said Pfizer is in its last round of trials for children under the age of 12.
In the meantime, she recommends universal masking in schools, to keep children and their families safe.