Schools not requiring masks, say “dangerous”
Some of the major school districts in the state including community schools in Utica, Plymouth-Canton, Grosse Pointe and Grand Rapids, say they won’t need masks as students return this fall. But some of the doctors and medical experts who treat children in these communities say it is a dangerous policy.
“There is no reason to take the risk of making this optional,” Dr Matthew Sims, director of infectious disease research at Beaumont Health, said at a press conference Tuesday. “The idea that we have this whole population of people [under age 12] that can’t be protected by the vaccine, and they’re going to make masking optional in a place where they also can’t maintain social distancing… it’s just not safe, ”Sims said.
Last week, Grosse Pointe Superintendent Jon Dean announcement the district would start the year with an “optional mask” policy, citing what it said was an 80% community vaccination rate and a “low number of local COVIDs”. A reference to guide for Families said the district “may have to reinstate mandatory masking in school buildings” if cases increase.
But Sims said that’s not how the virus works.
“I’ve seen people say, ‘Well, our vaccination rates in this school district or this school district are better than the national average,’ and so on,” he said. “But the point is, it only takes one or two cases to start tearing schools apart. … And these children can then take it home, pass it on to their parents, pass it on to their families, to grandparents who are older and perhaps more vulnerable.
And vaccination rates are lower in Michiganders ages 12 to 15 than any other age group, with just 33% covered by the vaccine. So what parents and schools decide now, at the end of the summer, will have a huge impact on the continued increase in adult and child cases in Michgian, said pediatrician Dr Sandy Patel. hospital in Beaumont, Royal Oak.
“Fortunately, right now in Michigan we haven’t seen as high a number of pediatric cases admitted as in other states now,” Patel said. “We are at the place where we can really hopefully make a change and make it where a few months later we are still in a good position,”
Currently, 11 children are hospitalized with suspected or confirmed COVID, according to state data. And although recent studies suggest that the risk of death from COVID for children is very low, Patel says she is seeing more patients with long-term complications from the virus, otherwise known as “long COVID.” A landmark study has suggested that up to half of all children who contract COVID, even those who are asymptomatic, experience “Lasting symptoms”.
“It’s just something we don’t talk about,” Patel said. “It’s kind of like, ‘Oh, it’s a cold, he’s had it for two weeks and he’s fine…. But there are definitely some long term complications that we are seeing. Especially in our obese, diabetic patients, they run a higher risk of complications. “
And children who have COVID are coming to hospitals with an increasingly wide range of symptoms that “disguise” themselves as other illnesses, she said.
“You can have hives … an exacerbation of asthma, [gastrointental] symptoms, dehydration, chest pains … So we really see anything. And then we must also be aware of the psychological disorders in pediatric patients. So it’s kind of on our radar for every patient we see.
And while MIS-C, a rare inflammatory syndrome that can develop weeks after a child has contracted COVID, has only resulted in around 4,400 reported cases nationally, these cases can be serious and even fatal. About 70% of children with MIS-C need to be treated in intensive care units, Patel said.
“They may not even know they had COVID a few weeks ago,” she said. “Maybe they just thought, ‘We got a little cold, we feel good, we were just a little run down.’ … And then they have a rash … like a sandpaper rash … Their eyes are very red. And these kids go down fast. And that’s our biggest fear is [that] these children will fall quickly without prompt diagnosis and treatment.
Families who still have questions about vaccinating their child for COVID should speak to their pediatrician, she said.
“I have three children in the public school system, I attend board meetings and I hear a lot of dialogue and discussion. I think the best thing [for vaccine-hesitant families] has been just ongoing gentle reminders, ongoing conversations with your pediatrician… I think it’s this relationship that is key for these families to say, “OK, I’m going to get the shot. “