The school year has barely started in some districts, and there are already thousands of kids in quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19
The delta variant of COVID-19 is continuing to run rampant across the United States. The country’s overall vaccination rate is still hovering around 60 percent of those who are eligible. Mask mandates have been dropped in most states, and some states have even actively banned them. And despite it all, schools across the U.S. are almost entirely open for in-person classes this year. In some districts, we’re now a few days into the new school year, and there are already thousands of kids in quarantine because of COVID outbreaks in their schools.
In one South Carolina school district, 126 students and 22 staff members tested positive for COVID-19 during the first week of classes, leading to more than 600 students having to quarantine. Unsurprisingly, masks are optional for Kershaw School District students, who live in a county with a 42 percent vaccination rate.
In Richmond, Virginia, the entire fourth grade at Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts is in quarantine after four students tested positive. Their county also has a 42 percent vaccination rate (though none of the fourth graders are vaccinated, because they’re not eligible until they’re 12 years old).
Throughout the state of Mississippi, nearly 1,000 students and teachers have already tested positive for COVID this school year, and around 5,000 are currently quarantined. In many of Mississippi’s school districts, masks are optional. Oak Grove High School and Purvis High School, both in southern Mississippi, have already shifted to virtual classes to try to stem outbreaks among students and school staff.
And those are just in places where students are actually quarantined after being exposed to COVID-19. In Ankeny, Iowa, school district officials recently sent a letter to parents to inform them that, in the district of 12,000 students, no one will be asked to quarantine if they’re exposed to COVID at school. Iowa has imposed a statewide ban on mask mandates in schools.
Meanwhile, pediatric cases of COVID-19 are on the rise nationwide. Kids have been accounting for more than 20 percent of new cases since early May, and pediatric ICUs in Texas and Tennessee have sounded the alarm that they’ve run out of beds for sick kids. The majority of pediatric COVID cases are mild, but with the rise of the delta variant, officials have seen an uptick — from 0.1 percent to 1.9 percent — in kids who are hospitalized.