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Parents & Educators Face New School Closures Due to ‘Alarming’ Rise in Pediatric COVID Cases

Parents & Educators Face New School Closures Due to ‘Alarming’ Rise in Pediatric COVID Cases

Health experts in the United States are reacting to an ‘alarming’ jump in child Covid infections that have caused some school districts to announce returns to remote learning. Rising numbers of pediatric cases have convinced officials in some states to order a return to remote learning after the winter break. Around 300 schools in Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York will remain closed.

Over the past three weeks, as Omicron-related cases soared in New York City and elsewhere, the number of children hospitalized in New York with Covid-19 quadrupled, the state health department said. Across New York state, only about 16% of five- to 11-year-olds and 71% of 12- to 17-year-olds are fully vaccinated.

Tustin, CA – August 11: Students listen to their teacher during their first day of transitional kindergarten at Tustin Ranch Elementary School in Tustin, CA on Wednesday, August 11, 2021. (Photo by Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

Concern about Omicron infections among children remains high regardless of classroom precautions. In Maryland, Prince George’s County public schools, one of the 20 largest districts in the US, transitioned more than 136,500 students to virtual learning last week. In New Jersey, Paterson public schools will start 2022 with two weeks remote. On Friday, Christmas Eve, the New York health department warned healthcare providers of the rising numbers of child hospitalizations around New York City, where Omicron was first recorded on US soil.

The department warned that admissions rose four-fold from the week starting 5 December to the week starting 19 December. Approximately half the admissions were of children under five and thus not eligible for vaccines. For the week starting 19 December, none of the five- to 11-year-old patients were fully vaccinated.

Throughout the pandemic, experts have said children are less likely to develop serious illnesses. For the week from 9 to 16 December, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported 169,964 pediatric Covid-19 cases, representing 1.8% to 4.1% of hospitalized patients.

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