Back-to-school reassurance from pediatricians

Back to school appointment with Austin Regional Clinic pediatrician

Like the rest of Texas, the area around Austin is currently experiencing an unusually bad surge in COVID-19. In this recent article in Slate, several area pediatricians explained what precautions to take and how to manage the risks of the delta variant. Even in Austin, where doctors have reported seeing an influx of children in hospitals in the region, pediatricians have a surprisingly reassuring message: Your kid is going to be OK.

According to Slate, "Children represent around 14 percent of COVID cases nationwide, but fewer than 0.03 percent of those cases resulted in death, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children can spread the virus, and infants and children with underlying medical conditions or weakened immune systems are considered at higher risk, but overall, very few will experience anything worse than a fever and cough if they contract the virus, even with the Delta variant.

The case numbers in Austin are worse than they were early in the pandemic, but even there, the pediatricians aren't advising parents to act like it's the spring of 2020 all over again. There are several major differences. Vaccines protect the adults who live with the children from getting more severe cases. Authorities have now established the efficacy of distancing, mask-wearing, and proper ventilation, all of which have been shown to make school settings safer. And schools taking full precautions can have a very low rate of transmission."

Most pediatricians agreed that the hardships of remote learning and social isolation could no longer be ignored. James Anderson, IV, MD, Pediatrician at ARC Far West who works primarily with pediatric mental health, says he prioritizes mental health because of the increase he's seen of depression and anxiety. "To me, kids are lower risk, and I have to balance what is their mental health, versus the risk of COVID," he said. "The COVID impact isn't just sickness."

One size does not fit all when it comes to the virtual vs. in-person dilemma

Most pediatricians agree that schools should require students to wear masks. The pediatricians were universal in saying that given the virus' lower risk to children, they would personally send any children aged 3 or older to in-person classes, given the usefulness of socialization starting at that age.

Still, each pediatrician also stressed that every risk calculation was a personal one and that there was no single, correct decision. If there's a medically vulnerable adult in the child's household, that changes the calculation. As does the parent's anxiety. "The kids pick up on it," Dr. Anderson said. He said that while he strongly recommended that young children go to daycare and older children attend in-person classes and regular social activities with other kids, some families will find that any given activity is not worth the stress. "If the parents aren't comfortable, I would probably not recommend it."

Make an appointment today

Make an appointment with Dr. Anderson today online at or by calling ARC Far West at 512-346-6611.

Tags: Back to School