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Kids and Covid: How to keep the unvaccinated safe at school

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We are just over a week away from kids in Northeast Ohio returning to class. But vaccinations for young children have yet to be approved as COVID cases climb.

CLEVELAND — You can count the number of days until kids hit the halls of their schools once again. It’s an exciting time, but doctors say parents, children, and teachers need to be more diligent now than ever. 

Karen Brickenden’s 14-year-old daughter is among those students headed back to school. The talk of how to keep her daughter safe has become top of mind for her family. 

“Probably about ten days ago we started to talk about it,” Karen tells 3News. “We’re talking about wearing masks and where we should wear the mask now.”

The COVID-19 Delta variant is charting new territory around the country in the battle against the pandemic. The only group of people who remain unable to get a COVID-19 vaccine are little ones, and doctors are concerned because more infections are happening amongst them. 

As of late last week, Cleveland Clinic is reporting 14 new pediatric cases of the virus, none of which were hospitalized. 

“These things are already happening before we’ve even gone back to school,” notes Dr. Claudia Hoyen, who specializes in pedatric infectious diseases at University Hospitals.

Area doctors say keeping kids safe really boils down to the rule that’s been hard-pressed since the pandemic began. 

“We just have to go back to the basics of COVID,” says Dr. Hoyen. 

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“Watching your distance, wearing a mask, washing your hands,” adds Dr. David Kaelber, a pediatrician at MetroHealth.

If your child is 12 years of age or older, doctors urge you to start the vaccine process now. For kids younger than 12, doctors say it’ll be a group effort to keep them safe. 

Dr. Kaelber advises schools to do activities outside if you have a choice of being indoors or outdoors, while Dr. Hoyen adds that if children are indoors, they need to be masked.

“We’re in a different ball game now and we really need to reconsider those things that we may have been a little bit lax with,” Dr. Hoyen adds.

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