What Impact Does Omicron Have on School Safety?


  • The Omicron variant’s strong transmissibility raises the danger for youngsters who attend in-person school.
  • Vaccination, on the other hand, may help avoid hospitalization due to the coronavirus.
  • Local transmission rates and your child’s immunization status, for example, may influence their level of risk.
  • Your doctor may advise you on whether or not you should keep your kid at home during the peak.

According to Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of children hospitalized with COVID-19 is at an all-time high, according to a statement released on Jan. 7. According to COVID-NET statistics, there were 5.3 hospitalizations per 100,000 children aged 0 to 4 years in the United States in the week ending January 1.

During the same time period, 1.4 out of every 100,000 children aged 5 to 17 were admitted to the hospital. Adults, on the other hand, were still more likely to be admitted to the hospital. Hospitalizations occurred at a rate of 8.6 per 100,000 for adults aged 18 and above. Adults 65 and older had the highest rate within this category, with 18.3 hospitalizations per 100,000 individuals.

During the week ending December 28, an average of 378 children were admitted to hospitals per day, according to previous CDC statistics. This indicates an increase of more than 66% over the previous week.

This figure surpasses the previous high of 342 daily hospital admissions set in late August and early September. As a result of these high numbers, several school districts around the country have decided to revert to remote learning in order to keep their students safe. But how serious is the danger to youngsters who go to school in person? And, until the number of incidents decreases, how can parents best safeguard their children?

What is the severity of Omicron?

According to Walensky, “we’re still learning about the severity of Omicron in youngsters.” COVID-19, on the other hand, seems to impact adults more than children, according to CDC data gathered from the start of the epidemic through Oct. 31 last year. Mechanical ventilation was used in 6.1 percent of hospitalized children aged 0 to 4 years, 25.1 percent spent time in intensive care units (ICUs), and 0.8 percent died.

Children aged 5 to 17 had comparable outcomes, with 6.5 percent requiring mechanical breathing, 28.7% spending time in intensive care units, and 0.7 percent dying. Mechanical ventilation, on the other hand, was used by 12.5 percent of the population, with elderly persons being the most commonly vented (14.2 and 14.1 percent for the age groups 50 to 64 and 65-plus, respectively).

The incidence of ICU stays did not vary significantly among age groups. In all, 24.9 percent of COVID-19 patients were admitted to the intensive care unit. Adults, on the other hand, were more likely to die from the condition, with rates ranging from 2.8 percent among those aged 18 to 49 to 16.8 percent among those aged 65 and over.

Is going to school in person risky?

Omicron transmission is widespread, according to Dr. Andrea Berry, an infectious disease pediatrician at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital and an assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

“The CDC defines high transmission as more than or equal to 100 new cases per 100,000 in the preceding seven days, and/or more than or equal to 10% positive NAAT tests (PCR testing) in the preceding seven days,” she said. “Cases currently vary from 450 to 2,667 per 100,000, and the majority of states have a test positive rate of more over 25%,” she said.

Because the general risk of catching COVID-19 in the community has risen during the Omicron outbreak, Berry stated, the danger of receiving the virus in school has also increased. However, she explained that the real danger level is determined by a number of circumstances. “One of them is individual conduct. “At school, some kids will have greater contact with other kids,” she said. She also said that “school mitigation measures are another variable” for a youngster.

“In Maryland, such efforts include masks, improved ventilation in school facilities, urging not to attend to school if sick, and reporting if COVID-19 instances are found in classes, schools, or contacts,” she noted. “In some areas, school mitigation initiatives are more extensive than mitigation measures employed at other community gathering places,” Berry stated.

How immunization may help you minimize your chance of becoming sick and the severity of your disease

In her statements, Walensky said that “we are still learning” about what is behind the rise in pediatric hospitalizations. It might be due to the fact that there are more instances in the community as a whole, or it could be due to lower vaccination rates among youngsters.

“Currently, little over half of the adolescents aged 12 to 17 are completely vaccinated, and just 16 percent of children aged 5 to 11 are fully vaccinated,” she added. We know that immunization reduces the risk of serious illness and hospitalization.” Unvaccinated adolescents had an 11-fold greater incidence of hospitalization than fully vaccinated adolescents, according to Walensky.

Unvaccinated minors aged 12 to 17 years were hospitalized at a rate of 2.2 per 100,000 in the week ending Nov. 27, 2021. Vaccinated youngsters, on the other hand, were only hospitalized at a rate of 0.2 per 100,000. Parents should have their children vaccinated if they are eligible, or boosted if they are 12 or older, according to Walensky. According to Walensky, an analysis of more than 26 million vaccine doses administered to this age range revealed that immunization is “overwhelmingly safe.”

Identifying the personal dangers that your family faces

Dr. S. Wesley Long, a researcher at Houston Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, stated, “Kids suffer many of the same hazards as adults; the main difference is that vaccination rates among pediatric populations are lower.” “In-person learning takes place in enclosed areas where distance might be difficult and mask wear can vary,” he said. Long stated it depends on your scenario whether you should pick remote or in-person education for your kid. Long advised that you dig into what’s going on in your local neighborhood.

“It’s more essential to evaluate local COVID figures and transmission measures than national averages,” he added, “because the local numbers truly tell you what’s going on in your town.” You should also think about whether your kid or someone else in your family is in danger.

When making a choice, Long recommends consulting your child’s physician, since they will be the most knowledgeable about your child’s health and can assist you to assess local circumstances. You should also think about whether your kid has been vaccinated and how high immunization rates are in your area, he added. “Vaccinating and boostering eligible youngsters, together with mask-wearing and as much distance as feasible, is their greatest protection,” Long added.

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