(WFXR) — When it comes to going back to school, uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic can cause some Virginia parents to worry.
“The COVID thing is coming back and that is my only concern…Just everybody getting sick again like it was in 2020,” said Melissa Saunders, who cares for her two grandchildren.
Some back-to-school coronavirus jitters are still getting to parents, caretakers, and teachers alike since it can be quite a task to implement safety guidelines that can change any day.
“That is a tricky thing to monitor as a parent and a teacher,” middle school teacher Rob Mitchell said.
According to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), there has been a recent increase in COVID-19 cases across the Commonwealth. More specifically, as of Wednesday, Aug. 3, Virginia has averaged 2,949 new COVID-19 cases each day over the past week.
“What we’re expecting into the fall is that cases will continue to go up, just because as we go into the colder season, the likelihood of respiratory illness to be more easily spread is a possibility,” said Mary Kate Bowser, nurse manager with the Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts.
As students spend more time in enclosed spaces, Bowser says the likelihood of spreading the coronavirus is higher.
“Being vaccinated against COVID is the best thing we can do to prevent severe illness and disease at this time,” she explained.
Meanwhile, some parents have been reluctant to get their children immunized.
According to the VDH, 6.8% of children ages 0 through 4 and about 45.4% ages 5 through 11 have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, compared to well over 70% in older children.
Dr. Christopher Pierce, chief of pediatrics for Carilion Clinic encourages the vaccination of students under age 18 and says the side effects are amazingly mild.
“The kids, most of them, it’s not even batting an eye on what they felt. I don’t even think they get a sore arm, rarely, or the fever or fatigue,” Pierce told WFXR News.
He says preparing is the best thing we can do.
“These less virulent strains, the BA.4 and BA.5 have taught us that they’re less virulent, but more contagious,” Pierce said.
Regardless of vaccination status, teachers and health officials say they still want students to take the pandemic seriously going into the new school year.
“I would appreciate it if the students can just respect it just like they would respect any health situation,” said Mitchell.
To learn more about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Commonwealth, click here.