With the 2021-22 school year starting, many parents are wondering about their children's safety as they hear more and more about the COVID-19 Delta variant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and California health officials have been tracking the Delta variant carefully, watching to ensure the safety and health of our students and schools. So far, we know that the Delta variant is about twice as contagious than the original virus. But, like other COVID-19 versions, children are still less likely to be infected with the Delta variant, including younger children who cannot yet get vaccinated.
There is a lot of concern about Delta, but vaccines help
With the spread of the Delta variant comes understandable, new concerns. In addition to being more contagious, some people who have been vaccinated can get the Delta variant, which is called a breakthrough infection. However, vaccinated people are experiencing no, mild, or much less severe symptoms from COVID-19. They are much less likely to get hospitalized or severely sick compared to those who are unvaccinated because the vaccine helps prepare their bodies to fight off the infection. More than 97% of hospitalized patients are unvaccinated adults.
Vaccinated people can also spread the Delta variant, though much less than people who are unvaccinated, and even less frequently when safety measures like mask-wearing are in place. This means wearing a mask is still important for everyone to protect themselves and others.
We have tools to support safe schools
Schools are prepared for students' safe return to in-person learning. California is using what we have learned about COVID-19 over the past year and a half about how to create safe schools where kids can learn and grow. This includes vaccines, masks, COVID-19 testing, fresh airflow indoors, washing hands, and staying home when sick. Free COVID-19 testing is available to schools to keep infections from entering campus, especially in communities where numbers of cases might be higher. These tools provide the key safety layers for schools including for those with Delta cases in the community.
You are the first line of defense
It turns out that kids are much more likely to get COVID-19 from an adult at home than from attending school. That means that getting vaccinated is one of the best ways parents can protect their children. Being fully vaccinated is also the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 and slow the spread.
We're all in this together
COVID-19 is not just a school issue. It's also a community issue, and we must all do our part to keep each other safe. Get vaccinated to protect yourself and your child. Talk to your child about the importance of wearing their mask and washing their hands. Keep yourself and your kids informed with fact-based information.
Engage with your child's school. Talk to them about their COVID-19 safety plan, ask questions about ventilation and how they plan to handle positive cases, and find out about available COVID-19 testing resources. We all have a role to play as we work to keep our students and schools safe. When we review the science about the Delta variant and the safety measures that schools are taking against COVID-19, schools can safely remain open.