ACS monitors COVID as pediatric cases rise

Published 4:38 pm Friday, January 14, 2022

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Andalusia City Schools is planning to continue in-school learning for students amidst an increase in positive COVID-19 cases across the state.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, hospitalizations of children in Alabama due to COVID-19 are at a record high, and measures need to be taken to reduce COVID-19 in the pediatric population. Parents are urged to minimize their children’s exposure to COVID-19 in schools and public places, wear well-fitting masks in schools, and get vaccinated if they are eligible.

According to an announcement this week by the Andalusia School System, officials are continuously monitoring the situation in order to provide the best learning experience for students while also taking safety into account.

“We are continuing to monitor COVID-19 cases in our schools. In-person learning will continue with preventative measures in place until such a time as the district is unable to do so. Please continue to monitor your child for symptoms on a daily basis. Should we need to transition to virtual learning, additional information will be communicated using our mass notification system as well as social media outlets. As always, thank you for your patience and support as we continue to navigate through this pandemic,” school officials said.

Opp City Schools also released a statement saying the system will remain open for in-school instruction.

“Please monitor your child’s health and follow ADPH guidelines. If he or she has been exposed or is demonstrating any signs or symptoms of COVID, please keep them home and contact the school nurse,” school officials said.

On January 13 there were 9,266 total COVID-19 cases reported in Alabama, according to the ADPH. The breakdown of cases by age is as follows:

• Percent of cases, ages 0-4, 3.1 percent

• Percent of cases, ages 5-11, 4.3 percent

• Percent of cases, ages 12-17, 5.3 percent

“In the crisis of higher virus transmission with the Omicron variant, immediate measures are critical,” ADPH District Medical Officer Dr. Wes Stubblefield said. “School-wide masking is at the top of the list of preventive steps that need to be implemented. Masks can still make a difference in school settings and allow students to remain in class, if properly used.”

Only 10.5 percent of children in the 5- to 11-year-old age group have initiated vaccines. For ages 12-17, 35.5 percent of young people in this age group have initiated vaccines. According to the latest school dashboard, there were 16,035 cases of COVID-19 in Alabama schools this week with all but four of the 143 districts reporting. There were 2,940 cases reported last week.

“The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is extremely contagious and fast-spreading,” said Dr. Katrina Skinner, president of the Alabama Academy of Pediatrics. “Pediatric hospitalizations are at record high numbers and we continue to see children with serious complications of COVID-19 infections such as MIS-C. Parents should take the current COVID-19 outbreak seriously as it poses a very real threat to the health and well-being of their children. Children depend on their parents to protect them by minimizing their exposure to high-risk settings, to teach good masking practices and other preventive measures, as well as getting them vaccinated if eligible.”

On January 13, a total of 2,091 patients were admitted to Alabama hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 (of which 71 are pediatric patients). Of these patients, there were three pediatric patients in the intensive care unit, including one on a ventilator. There were also 41 pregnant women admitted, with one in the intensive care unit and one on a ventilator.