BROWN COUNTY, Wis.— A Green Bay area doctor warns the COVID-19 delta variant could impact schools this fall.
That’s why Dr. Ashok Rai, president and CEO of Prevea Health, said more people need to be vaccinated before the start of the school year, including children 12 and older.
“The most important thing you can do right now is get vaccinated now— even if people are saying it’s going to be a bad fall for us,” Rai said. “For the unvaccinated individuals it could be a really bad fall.”
Rai pointed to the rising numbers of cases in the state, and the appearance of the variant in Wisconsin, as reasons for concern.
He said even more worrisome is the reality children 11 and younger won’t become eligible for the vaccine by the start of the school year. He said the effectiveness with which the delta variant spreads could spell trouble for any unvaccinated age group.
“Where we may have a classroom with kids where only three or four would have been infected, just how delta spreads... the entire class could be infected,” he said.
Johns Hopkins University reported more than 52 thousand new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. on July 19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 83% of cases are of the delta variant.
Leaders with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services said schools should follow current CDC guidelines for K-12 schools. Those guidelines include having all unvaccinated children older than one wear a mask. They also stated children should maintain a physical distance of at least three feet from their peers.
“CDC recommends in the case of elementary schools they may full well want to consider just requiring everyone, even vaccinated teachers and staff, to wear a mask,” said DHS deputy secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk.
DHS said it will issue guidance for COVID-19 safety in schools in the coming weeks, however they emphasized individual school districts have the authority to decide which protocols if any they follow.