In our previous post, we discussed how important it is for students to be mentally prepared to go back to school.
The pandemic has affected everyone, including students, some of which have struggled with increased anxiety and depression. We encouraged parents and caregivers to provide support for their kids’ needs during these hard times.
In addition, we talked about what it will mean to be vaccinated at school and the necessary physical preparations.
The question is: will students still need to be wearing masks and will they need to have a viable mask supply? And more importantly, is it safe for students to go back to school?
People are preparing for the shift from online to in-person learning this fall. Despite the vaccine being rolled out and new CDC guidelines, there are still some worry that schools will be a nexus for transmission between students and faculty.
Under the “safe schools” operational strategies, many states have allocated specific funding to ensure that teachers and faculty will be tested regularly at school. The CDC guidelines also state that people should still practice prevention strategies such as hand washing, social distancing, contact tracing, and wearing masks in schools.
Some early studies suggested children are less likely to contract and transmit COVID-19 but more recent research show that children are just as susceptible. Many children can contract COVID-19 without symptoms and evidence suggests that nearly half are asymptomatic.
That said, some children are vulnerable and can have serious consequences. One in three children who were hospitalized were admitted to intensive care units, which is similar to the rate among adults. In general, hospitalization and mortality rates in general are significantly lower for children than adults according to the CDC.
So, we know both children and adults carry and spread the virus, however, comparatively speaking, children generally tend to experience milder symptoms and are less likely to be life-threatening.
The question of safety mostly correlates with the physical preparedness of families and school districts alike. Vaccine distribution and adequate mask supply are the main factors in question here.
There’s been a surplus of vaccines nation wide. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued clearance on vaccines for children under the age of 16 for emergency use. Some states including Delaware, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Arkansas sort of jumped the gun and have already started distribution of the vaccine for ages 12–15.
There is still some concern among parents despite the CDC claiming the vaccine is safe for children. A poll showed that 3 in 10 parents with children ages 12-15 would get them vaccinated as soon as it’s available. With many children already getting vaccinated before the official green light from the CDC, it seems that things could roll out pretty quickly before the upcoming school year.
Regardless, schools planning to reopen in September will need to be prepared.
At ORÅ, we firmly believe that masks should still be used in supplement to the vaccinations to fully diminish the risk of transmissions. This especially applies to schools reopening.
One problem is the price of masks add up, especially if using the more highly efficient respirator masks. Respirator masks, or KN95 masks (the best masks for kids at school) range from $.04–$1.50 but anything less than one dollar is usually only if you buy in bulk (over 500 at a time). Consumer pricing of lower quantity KN95 face masks range from $1.50–$1.75 per mask.
Let’s do a little math, shall we?
There are 50.7 billion K-12 students. Multiply that by 180 days x $1.75 (the price of a KN95 mask… that’s $16 billion! Include the 19.7 billion post-secondary students x 150 days x $1.75 = $5.17 billion.
In summary, if schools chose not to supply students with face masks for the entire school year, it would cost students and parents roughly $21.2 billion. So, not a small sum.
To curb this problem and increase access to safety, ORÅ Brands is contributing masks to under-resourced school districts throughout the country through our Back to School Safely Campaign.
We’ve put together a little questionnaire to help you assess the safety of your child in preparation for back to school below.
- Have I spoken to my child/children if they are ready to return to in-person instruction?
- Is my child/student's school district taking the proper precautions to ensure the safety of my student as they return to in-person instruction?
- Is my child fully vaccinated? If not, when will my child be eligible to receive the vaccination?
- Is my child supplied with a viable amount of masks to return to the classroom safely?
To summarize, the answer to the question is it safe for kids to go back to school? is a combination of the following:
- Low mortality rate in children
- Mental preparedness
- Physical preparedness
Safety is our nation’s responsibility to our children as we prepare them for returning to the classroom. We are doing what we can to keep kids safe so they can continue in-person learning, and we hope you are too!