Parents flood doctors' offices with back to school questions

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- COVID-19 is the nightmare virus no one could have imagined being around this long. It's raging and southeast Texas is an epicenter in the U.S.

Now it's August and back-to-school is upon parents.

"Right now, I have a lot of questions. How are we going to ensure their safety?" Delicia Brooks-Washington asked.

Some districts can't answer that right now, which is why most of them will be virtual for the first few weeks, if not, longer.

Lystra McCoy, who has two children at school in Bellaire, is thinking about the long-term plan all the time.

"My question is what happens if there's another shutdown because of a major outbreak of COVID within the school? And what's next steps?" McCoy asked.

Pediatrician and managing physician of travel medicine at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, Dr. Suma Manjunath, says the first thing they clear up with parents is the fact that children are not exempt from COVID-19.

"Kids can contract the infection and they can give it to other people, whether it's to other children or adults," she explained.

Knowing that, health experts say extreme precautions have to be taken to have in-person learning.

Dr. Manjunath suggests masks for everyone over the age of 2, constant disinfecting and socially distanced desks.

As for stopping an outbreak, you have to keep the same kids in the same room, even for eating and snacking.

"If you have a bubble, then you can just easily quarantine that classroom or X number of kids, versus if there's so much movement. Now you have a nightmare of contact tracing of how, where, when, what and it's become confusing."

For perspective, Dr. Manjunath said this past flu season, many classrooms across the country were half-full due to kids being absent from the illness. Health officials say the coronavirus is even more contagious than the flu, which is why we have to take such drastic steps to prevent the spread.

We know times are tough and everyone is getting wary, but for the sake of our most vulnerable, many believe we have to do what we have to do for as all long as it takes.

"I say we keep them out, we keep them online as long as possible until the correct measures being taken to safely send them back to the classroom," McCoy said.

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