I think a lot of folks are feeling like their kids have just missed out on so much, and it’s been draining for their mental health and for their happiness. From my reporting, the top Covid issue among a lot of parents is no longer sickness from the virus, it’s the social and emotional issues their kids are having.
What’s the latest on transmission in schools?
Apoorva: What we know about transmission in schools is still what we knew before, which is that children can and do spread the virus, even if it is less often than adults. So it’s still important for parents to keep their children at home if they show any symptoms of being ill or have tested positive for the virus.
Ventilation in schools is going to be even more important this fall, simply because the variants that are circulating are more contagious. But, in general, the precautions remain the same: Mask when cases go up and whenever possible, test if you see symptoms and keep your child at home if they’re infected. If your child is at particular risk, you may still want to consider having them continue to wear a mask.
What should parents know about monkeypox?
Apoorva: Most children are not at risk of monkeypox. So far, 99 percent of the people who have had monkeypox are men who have sex with men. So I would urge parents to be aware, but to not panic. We don’t know a ton about transmission of the virus beyond the fact that it spreads by very close contact. In theory, kids sometimes have very close contact, especially younger children. But, again, I don’t think that we’re seeing the kind of cases in children that should cause parents to worry. At least not yet.
As a parent, how are you feeling about this year?
Jessica: The best thing I can do for my kids is make sure they’re vaccinated, so my kids are. When the mask mandate dropped here in New York City, I left it up to them. My little one, who basically had no memory of school without the pandemic, was really excited to not wear a mask. And I shared that excitement with her. When you’re learning to read, and you’re just learning how to socialize, a mask can be a real hindrance.
Apoorva: In general, I’m less worried than I used to be, because my kids are vaccinated, boosted and have had Covid once. But if we start to hear of cases in school again, I will ask them to start wearing masks again.