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Pediatrician fears winter COVID surge fueled by spread in schools

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Posted at 11:02 PM, Sep 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-08 00:02:20-04

TULSA, Okla. — Medical experts said, Tuesday, the latest trend in coronavirus infections is promising. However, some pediatricians do not feel that way about their age group.

“I expect this winter to be one of the worst that I’ve seen. I hope I’m wrong. I really do, I hope I’m wrong," Dr. Travis Campbell, Chair of The Children's Hospital at Saint Francis said. “A lot of that has to do with the kids getting into school and the spread of the Delta variant is escalating.”

The first few weeks of in-person classes amid the Delta variant are causing some Green Country school districts to shift their COVID policies.

Tulsa Public Schools reported 1,179 total infections and exposures as of Tuesday. All TPS students are now "expected" to wear masks on school grounds to mitigate the spread.

"To protect the kids that cannot vaccinate yet," Campbell said.

David Crow has a pair of those vulnerable students enrolled in Jenks Public Schools. Since his 5th grader and Kindergarten student are not eligible for the vaccine, he signed them up for distance learning, once again.

"We’d love to put them back in a classroom, physically, but until we feel like things are safe at Jenks we just can’t do that," Crow said.

In a school board meeting just before the first day of classes, district board members voted to "strongly encourage" mask-wearing in school facilities. So far the district reports 131 positive cases.

“You’re leaving everything so vulnerable to a shutdown in a moment’s notice," Crow said. "It’s not good for families, it’s not good for teachers, and it’s especially not good for students.”

Crow said he was forced to choose his children's health over their education. The kids are less than one percent of Jenks students learning through Trojan Connect, the district's at-home curriculum, but with a wary outlook from medical experts inside schools for the wintertime, Crow is confident he made the best choice, for now.

“I need my children in school, but I need them to be safe," he said. "I need both things to happen.”

The Jenks Board of Education announced a special meeting to discuss and "possibly vote on" a temporary mask requirement for all students, staff, and visitors. The meeting is at the district building at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

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