Statement by Texas Medical Association (TMA) President E. Linda Villarreal, MD; Texas Pediatric Society (TPS) President Seth D. Kaplan, MD; and Texas Public Health Coalition (TPHC) Chair Jason V. Terk, MD, as Texans plan for kids to return to school.
The physician and health care groups call for children’s protection from COVID-19 due to spikes in cases and hospitalizations from the COVID-19 Delta variant. In addition, they recommend parents and families follow new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines. It includes masking everyone in schools, grades K-12 – regardless of vaccination status, and vaccinating all children aged 12 and up who can receive the COVID-19 vaccine, to protect themselves and their families.
“As students head back to school this fall, physicians urge Texans to take steps to safeguard children from surging COVID-19 infections. We must defend children by vaccinating those aged 12 and up who can receive the COVID-19 shot and urging mask-wearing for everyone in schools to protect those who can’t be vaccinated.
“The pandemic has not ended, Gov. Greg Abbott renewed Texas’ disaster declaration on July 1, and we physicians see it’s worsening as COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths increase once again, mainly in unvaccinated Texans.
“Let’s face it; if we don’t take action, the more infectious COVID-19 Delta variant will spread among students when they gather together in schools. Therefore, we urge the use of every tool in our toolkit to protect children and their families from COVID-19. Those tools include vaccinating everyone eligible and getting all students to wear a mask to prevent the spread of disease to others, especially those who cannot get the shot’s defense from the virus.
“We want and need to have our children return to schools where they can learn and thrive. But we must ensure they are safe from disease spread to avoid outbreaks and disruptions that could keep kids out of school.”
The physicians also suggest children catch up on all vaccinations in preparation for school.