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Seminar Discusses Strategies to Keep Children Safe from Covid in the Fall

By: Manny Otiko, IVN

With Fall just around the corner and the Delta variant of the coronavirus currently surging, many parents are looking warily about sending their children back to school.

However, a recent “Safe Schools for All” seminar, featuring several education experts, gave parents an idea of what they will likely face when children return to class.

One of the featured speakers at the online seminar was Dr. Naomi Bardach, Safe School for All team lead. She gave a presentation on some important facts to know about the coronavirus and how it affects children.

Bardach reminded parents that scientists and medical professionals have gathered a lot more information about the coronavirus since it first hit America more than a year ago.

In 2020, schools closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and children went to distance learning, mainly conducted through Zoom classes. However, Bardach said parents have noticed that there are some downsides to this form of instruction. She said parents have witnessed behavioral issues in children, such as depression and sleeplessness. In addition, children missed the social interaction of being in school.

However, Bardach said that research has shown that children rarely get coronavirus from being in a school setting. Several international studies have shown that most children contract the disease from a close relative, not from fellow students or school personnel. 

Bardach also said medical research has shown that children are less likely to catch the coronavirus than older people.

However, there are steps adults can take to reduce the spread of the virus among children.

“Vaccines for adults are key to prevention in kids,” she said.

Schools also plan to return to in-class education with several new weapons to fight the coronavirus pandemic. According to Bardach, some of the methods schools will use to contain the virus are testing, masks, ventilation and increased sanitation. 

“Masks are very effective in preventing transmission,” she said.

Bardach said vaccination is the key to returning to life as usual.

“Vaccines mean kids can return to the things they enjoy,” she said.

There are several ways to get vaccinated, such as schools, health departments and pharmacies. Schools also offer testing. The state has provided schools with $5 million to pay for rapid testing. Another recommendation to reduce the spread of the coronavirus is to make sure sick children remain at home, said Bardach. 

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond was also a speaker at the seminar. He said that he visited a school that opened in July and had managed to do so with the new requirements. About 900 of the 1,000-member student body were present, he said.

“Everyone was wearing a mask,” he said. “Everyone was following protocol.”

Thurmond also said that vaccines were key to returning to normal. He also reminded African-Americans to get vaccinated. However, he noted that the Black community was lagging behind the vaccination rate. Vaccines are now available for children aged 12 to 18.

Thurmond added that while many parents have complained about distance learning, some African-American parents say they prefer it because their children don’t have to deal with bullying or harassment. 

Any parent who does not feel it’s safe for their child to be in school is offered distance learning. Vaccines are suggested but are currently not required.

Inland Valley News coverage of local news in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support minority-owned-and-operated community newspapers across California.

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