Returning to school will require a delicate balance

Returning to school will require a delicate balance
Dr. Wendy Williams gives a physical to a Biloxi Junior High Student on Tuesday at Coastal Family Health Care. (Source: John Fitzhugh)

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - If things go as planned, school starts in less than a month.

But things have not gone as planned this summer with COVID-19 numbers spiking instead of falling.

Back to school during a pandemic has parents and administrators searching for answers. The CDC and American Academy for Pediatrics recently issued new guidelines for schools to consider.

They are detailed and will be cumbersome to implement, but they are necessary to limit the spread of coronavirus.

“I do think we need to go back to school, I just think that we need to go about it safely and try our very best to heed some of these recommendations,” said Dr. Wendy Williams, chief medical officer Coastal Family Health Care.

Some school districts have issued plans to require students to wear a mask. But will students keep them on?

“It’s hard, a lot of people think children can’t wear masks,” Williams said. “Young people are so resilient, they can learn anything we ask them to. I think it’s a matter of putting a positive spin on it.”

Coastal Family Health Care says its latest statistics show people under age 18 and 19 to 29-year-olds have the highest rate of positive COVID tests with 30 to 39-year-olds close behind at ten percent. State health department statistics show the same trend.

Before the recent spike of COVID cases, schools seemed to be comfortable with the various plans they have developed to allow students to return to campus. So what are the tools that will make it work?

“I think masks, trying your best to do the social distancing if at all possible and then heeding the specific instances that are more apt to cause outbreaks such as music and choir and maybe even band,” she said. “Trying to really dive into those recommendations, and there’s lots of them out there right now.”

“They’re fairly consistent, they’re just late to the game,” Williams said. “We’re just now getting them in and schools have been trying all summer to come up with plans and now these come out and what do I do with them? And now, we have a spike, so it is very tenuous and it is very difficult to pinpoint, but we just have to make our best, safest option available.”

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