Keeping Children Safe in the Age of Covid

As schools opened their doors in August many parents grew with concern as their children weren’t able to get vaccinated and some school districts weren’t requiring masks. Besides schooling or daycare, parents have restricted the activities that their children are involved in to ensure their health, even though their social growth may be harmed. 

In prevention strategies provided by the CDC it is recommended that all teachers, staff and eligible students be vaccinated once they are eligible. Even though the nationwide prevention guidelines have lessened, the CDC is requiring K-12 administrators to implement the use of COVID-19 prevention strategies in their schools regardless of vaccination status.

When the vaccine was distributed to adults early spring, some parents didn’t think twice about getting the vaccination but considered the safety of their children when it came to public spaces. Katy Cummins, a mom of two who had a baby during the pandemic, wants all kids to be vaccinated and believes that they will become a part of the shots that are necessary for school enrollment. 

As vaccines become available to those of early school age, schools have to consider the placement of children who are not and who have received the vaccine. Cummins believes that the placement of children will be affected, “an uproar will happen, but if we want our kids in public schools… it has to happen.”

Since vaccines have recently become available to younger school age children, the CDC is still advocating prevention strategies when interacting with those who are unvaccinated. As the CDC finds that the “vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic.” In order for schools to resume in full operation, the CDC asks that they promote the vaccine.

Many schools throughout the Indianapolis area have implemented policies to combat the virus from spreading throughout the district. Policies that implement mask wearing on all adults and children, staying home with a fever, constant hand washing and sanitation of the classroom using disinfectants on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency COVID-19 list. Due to the foregoing allowance of vaccines for children, schools will need to update these guidelines with consideration for those kids that get the vaccine, possibly changing classroom setup or roster. 

Melissa Staley, a mother of three, said, “On one hand I see the goal of physical safety for the unvaccinated children, but on the other I think there would be serious physiological implications if that were the case. I can’t think of any historical situations where separation of people had a positive outcome.” 

The ongoing pandemic is forcing children to grow with the lack of raw social connection that existed before. Parents want to keep their children healthy so they have refrained from participating in after-school activities or extracurriculars. Few places in Indy like The Children’s Museum and Conner Prairie still have mandates and prevention strategies in place for children to gain those hands-on experiences. 

“We only go places that still have mask mandates. It’s exhausting but necessary,” Cummins stated.   

Meredith England, a mom of two, has kept her children from these activities because she has felt that their health and safety would be in risk. 

“It was necessary to keep our out of house family safe but hopefully since the vaccine is available they can get back to those activities for more social interaction,” England said.

The vaccine became available to children ages 5-11 at the beginning of November.

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