As kids across Oklahoma end their summer breaks and head back into the classroom this month, some doctors are worried about what it will mean for the spread of COVID-19.
"We saw cases go up last year when schools opened,” said Dr. Dale Bratzler, Chief COVID Officer for OU Health. “And so, I have a big concern that when we bring all these people together in indoor settings with a contagious virus, we're going to see more cases happen."
Bratzler said COVID-19 cases are spreading at a faster rate compared to this same time last year. The Delta variant makes up most of the cases statewide.
“I think it's going to be almost impossible to keep Delta variant out of classrooms," said Bratzler.
Because of that, Bratzler encourages all parents to make their kids wear a mask at school.
Especially since he said 85% of Oklahoma kids between 12 and 17 are not fully vaccinated, and the Delta variant is just as contagious as the chicken pox.
"You would not send your kids to school if you knew there was an outbreak of chicken pox in the school particularly if your kids have not been vaccinated,” said Bratzler. “And you should not want your kids to be in school without a mask if you knew there was a virus transmitting in the community that is highly contagious."
Despite his warning, Bratzler said most pediatric hospitalizations across the state are related to RSV and injuries - not COVID-19. In the last 30 days, 27 kids have been hospitalized for COVID-19 statewide.
Senate Bill 658 passed this year prevents local school districts from mandating masks unless the Governor issues a state of emergency.