More than a week after Christmas, children will return to school with new games, toys, and gadgets, but hopefully not COVID-19.
“We have seen numbers of cases go up in children over the past month,” said Dr. Jennifer Chevinsky, Riverside County Deputy Public Health Officer. “Over the past week, there’s over 1,000 cases in children.”
COVID-19 cases have not been this high since August, with variants continuing to spread across the Coachella Valley and the country, and children between the ages of zero and seventeen having one of the highest number of cases in Riverside County.
“We’ve seen a range of symptoms. Fortunately at this point, we’re not seeing a bump up of hospitalizations in kids,” said Dr. Chevinsky. “So far, cases have stayed around the milder range in children, but of course we need to keep an eye on it to make sure and see what the severity could be.”
Children also have the lowest vaccine rates. They were the last group to become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine back in November, and now health officials are urging parents of little ones five and up to get them a shot in the arm.
“I think for all ages, kids included, vaccines are very important,” said Dr. Chevinsky. “We would like to see the numbers go up in terms of vaccinations for our kids five and older.”
In addition to vaccines, health officials recommend frequent COVID-19 testing, with testing sites located around the valley and at local schools.
Desert Sands Unified School District will return to classes from holiday break on Monday. In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the district will hold a COVID testing clinic on Sunday at its office in La Quinta from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“It’s important for them to have that test before they return, if possible, to be able to know because many times you have no symptoms, but you could still be spreading it so we’re trying to retain that before everybody returns to school,” said Laura Fisher, DSUSD Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services.
School officials say that they will continue to enforce measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to students, staff, and the overall community including mask wearing, social distancing, and frequent hand-washing. They say students and families can do their part by monitoring symptoms and getting tested.
“Get tested and we’re excited to have everybody back to school,” said Fisher.
In addition to Sunday’s covid-19 testing clinic, testing is also available everyday of the week at all four DSUSD traditional schools and the district office on Fridays from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Testing is available to everyone.