The question on the minds of many is what will school look like in the fall due to the coronavirus, and how is the virus affecting students in the first place?
“It’s kind of a mystery,” said Jeri Grant.
Grant, a retired educator and also a grandparent, says she hopes North Dakota will be in a good enough place to allow her grandchildren back into school this fall.
“I think it needs to be driven by what the statistics are. I don’t think it’s an easy answer to it. I do think kids do well when they are in school with a variety of activities and different people to work with,” said Grant.
But that may be easier said than done. When the pandemic began, it quickly became clear that senior citizens with underlying health conditions are most at risk for severe symptoms of COVID-19. But when it comes to kids, there are still questions.
“It still looks different in a child. So no one really wants to pull the trigger and say, ‘Yeah, kids can go back to school’ and they have an outbreak and 2-year-olds have COVID,” said Dr. Fariha Saleem, UND Center for Family Medicine.
According to the Mayo Clinic, kids’ symptoms of COVID-19 tend to be mild, similar to the common cold, if they have symptoms at all. Dr. Saleem says other symptoms are possible, too. And kids can still transfer the virus easily.
“Where some kids, that are outliers, are getting swollen hands and feet, and they are getting like the respiratory symptoms and the lung involvement,” said Dr. Saleem.
As for getting back to school, data from Europe could be cause for optimism here in the U.S. According to a report from Reuters, students in Denmark are now back in school and their return did not lead to an increase in infections.
And while we don’t yet know what the state has planned for North Dakota schools, grandparents like Grant say she hopes the decision is made with a lot of thought.
“I worry about them because it’s so much that is unknown about it and how it impacts children,” added Grant.
205 children between the ages of zero and nine have tested positive. The state says 179 of those children have recovered.
We expect to hear an update from Gov. Doug Burgum about the re-entry to schools sometime this month.