RICHMOND, Va. -- As universities, colleges, and public schools begin to reopen to in-person learning, COVID-19 cases across the country are rising. Among Virginia cases associated with outbreaks, more than 2,300 are linked to colleges and universities, 307 with childcare facilities, and 186 with grades K-12.
On Friday, Colonial Heights Public Schools informed parents at Lakeview Elementary School that the school would transition back to virtual learning after additional COVID-19 cases were reported at the school.
As school districts begin reopening across Central Virginia, the concern for many parents is whether they should send their children back to in-person learning.
Dr. Eric Freeman, with Old Dominion Pediatrics, suggested parents must first consider any chronic underlying health issues affecting their children.
"Particularly children with respiratory conditions, allergies, asthma," he said. "A child who has an autoimmune disease or some type of immune deficiency may make them more susceptible to some type of Coronavirus infection."
When making the decision to close or quarantine impacted students, school districts work with the health department to determine how many students and staff might have been exposed.
When determining a person's risk of exposure to COVID-19, close contact means being within six feet of an infected person for more than 15 minutes.
Other factors that are considered include the size of the classroom, the extent of the social distancing, and use of face coverings.
Screening children either at school or home is crucial to controlling outbreaks, according to physicians.
"I think there's three questions that all parents should consider as we transition to some degree of back to in-person learning. One, is your child sick in any way? Two, does your child have any fever, and three, to your knowledge is there any concern for any potential exposure to a close contact of Coronavirus within the last 14 days before that day of school?" Dr. Freeman said. "If you think the answer is yes to any of those questions, I recommend that you keep your child home for that day and feel free to reach out to your pediatrician or primary care provider."
Freeman said getting vaccinated for the flu may also help control the spread of COVID 19 as many health care providers worry about the co-existence of the two viruses.