School districts throughout the St. Louis region Many are describing a more relaxed environment than students have navigated in previous years of the pandemic.
Along with these messages, some schools are encouraging families to vaccinate students against COVID-19. Local public health officials say now is the time to make sure children are protected against the coronavirus and other diseases.
This is the first school year that will begin with all ages eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s too late for students to be fully vaccinated before school starts if they start doses now, but even some immunity is important at this point, said Amanda Brzozowski, senior epidemiologist for the St. Louis County Department of Public Health.
“You have to get your shots,” Brzozowski said. “If you’re a little late, get them now. Start the process, especially if it’s something that may require more than one dose, such as the COVID-19 vaccine.
So far, total vaccination against COVID-19 has been lower for younger age groups.
“If people are hesitant, they’re on the fence, or they just need a little more insight, please reach out and talk to your pediatrician or see CDC website and you might be able to get some of the information you’re looking for,” Brzozowski said.
Most school districts in the region will have optional mask policies starting this year, and school leaders are hoping for a more normal start to school, said Paul Ziegler, CEO of Education Plus, a nonprofit that works with many of the school districts. and charter schools in the region.
“We know that COVID is still present in our communities, we know that we will still have some mitigation layers within our schools, but hopefully they will not be as severe as what we have seen in the past ,” Ziegler said.
One exception is the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, which sent a letter to families this week saying masks will be required for the first two weeks of school because of the high level of community transmission in St. Louis County.
As of Thursday evening, in Illinois, the CDC said The risk of COVID-19 is high in Madison and St. In Missouri, it averages at St. Louis and St. Louis. Louis County and lower in St. Louis. Charles County. CDC eased its COVID-19 guidelines for schools on Thursday, saying students no longer need to take tests to stay in class after being exposed to someone with the virus.
Schools are also dropping other pandemic routines. The Parkway School District will no longer have a COVID-19 dashboard on its website that reports school cases and positivity rates. IN a letter to familiesSuperintendent Keith Marty said that masks will no longer be required and that an occasional building threshold will not be used to reinstate the mask requirement.
“We will now implement our standard communicable disease policy in response to COVID,” Marty said. “This means we will treat cases of COVID similarly to other infectious diseases at school.”
During the pandemic, public health officials said there was a decline in other vaccinations. Seven are required by the state to attend school. Parents should check with their pediatrician to make sure their child is on track for the various required vaccines, said Jenelle Leighton, clinical quality administrator with the St. Louis County Department of Public Health.
“Now is the time for everyone to understand that immunizations are extremely important and to look at the vaccination schedule and what requirements are needed for the return to the school year,” Leighton said.
Schools are also beginning to prepare to respond to monkeypox, although there have not been many recorded cases in the area. Education officials are using skills learned in the pandemic to be proactive, Ziegler said.
“We are much better equipped to make quick decisions about how to deal with infectious disease than we were three years ago,” he said. “While there is no silver lining to a pandemic, certainly our understanding and ability to deal with a pandemic is very different.”
St. John’s Public Schools The district plans to post monkeypox information on its COVID-19 dashboard and, as always, will ask families to keep children home from school if they are sick.
Nationally, the virus is spreading mainly through intimate contact between adults. But anyone can become infected with monkeypox, as it is spread by skin-to-skin contact or contact with clothing or bedding that has been used by an infected person.
“I think schools have to be careful to make sure that if they have cases in their students, those cases are not stigmatized,” Brzozowski said. “We need to protect the identity of patients and we need to make sure there is no stigma attached to something like monkeypox.”
St. Louis County Louis is distribution coordination from the limited number of monkeypox vaccines available in the region.
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