It’s almost back to school time and the Delta variant is causing alarm for some local health professionals. A year ago, we were told that the Coronavirus was not as dangerous for most children, however now with a more contagious Delta variant on the rise, that may not be the case. According to Dr. Sean Elliott with Tucson Medical Center, “I would share some grave concerns about our school children”. “Due to the Delta variant, the school year will start off differently than last year because it is more contagious and more virulent for children,” he said.
How Does the Delta Variant Figure Into Schools’ Opening Plans?
Plans to reopen in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 school year likely will need to adapt to the realty of a rapidly changing pandemic virus. The Delta variant of SAR-CoV-2, the Coronavirus that causes the fatal respiratory disease Covid-19, made up 1 in 10 new U.S. infections as of the two week period ending July 5. According to Rochelle Walensky, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, predicted the strain, first identified in India, will overtake the Alpha variant from the U.K. to become the most dominant variant in the country within a few weeks. Alpha and Delta are just two of four varieties of the constantly mutating pandemic virus that are considered to be “of concern” by the CDC meaning they cause faster infection, more-severe illness, and/or reduce the effectiveness of treatments or vaccines.
How is the Delta Strain Different?
Delta is one of several new strains whose differences in the so-called “spike proteins” – which give the virus its signature pin cushion appearance – help the virus bind better to the surface of the cell. The variant is 50% more infectious than the most comment current variant, Alpha, which was in turn about 50% more infectious than the original pandemic Coronavirus. This could lead to exponential growth in outbreaks in communities with limited vaccinations and lax masking.
Is the Delta Variant Worse for Children?
Children make up just over 1 in 10 new Covid-19 infections, with nearly 8,500 children infected in the week ending June 24, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics tracker. Since the pandemic began, children have made up more than 14% of all infections. However, children are becoming more vulnerable because more infectious strains lead to more overall cases and fewer children have been or able to be vaccinated. The Delta variant has not been found to cause more severe illness in children than do other strains of the virus and about a third to half of children with Covid-19, including Delta variant, have no symptoms.
How School Leaders Account for Variants When Planning for School Reopening
District leaders will need to keep a close eye on infection rates in both the community and on-campus, because outbreaks in either plan can balloon rapidly. While the CDC has relaxed overall masking recommendations for adults who are vaccinated, many states still require schools to use masks for adults and children if they hold in-person instruction. School leaders will need to put health and safety of the students and faculty first by ensuring that cleaning and disinfecting protocols are upheld. One way to promote a healthy and safe environment is by ensuring that faculty and students are following CDC guidelines for proper handwashing and social distancing as well as keeping up with increased cleaning and disinfecting protocols. Many schools were concerned about how they can promote a healthy and safe environment between cleaning and disinfecting and have had MicroShield 360 professionally applied to high touch point surfaces inside school buses, in the cafeteria, athletic areas and other high touch point areas throughout their buildings. MicroShield 360 is the perfect complement to traditional cleaning and disinfecting as it protects treated surfaces 24 hours a day, 7 days a week up to an entire year from harmful bacteria and microorganisms. Another way to keep students and faculty healthy is by placing hand sanitizer in each classroom and gathering area. However, having the correct hand sanitizer, such as MicroShield 360 Endure Hand Sanitizer, is very important. MicroShield 360 Endure Hand Sanitizer lasts up to 4 hours on the skin and keeps your hands soft, whereas many hand sanitizers do not last as long and can cause skin dryness.
How are you the surfaces inside your building protected between traditional cleaning and disinfecting? If your surfaces are not protected 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, then contact MicroShield to schedule your application.