Local pediatricians weigh in on new CDC school guidelines

Parents said to be 50-50 about children eventually going back to school

SAN ANTONIO – Dr. Leah Jacobson, a San Antonio pediatrician, said the parents she’s spoken with are “50-50” about eventually sending their children back to school.

"The parents are really torn," Jacobson said.

As the chair of the Pediatric School Reopening Committee of the Bexar County Medical Society COVID-19 Task Force, Jacobson said they’re having to weigh education and having to consider health.

“I think at this point we need to look at health first and hope that we can catch up with the educational aspect of it,” she said.

The latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are based on what the agency said is the best available data.

“The reality is we just don’t know with this virus. I mean, we’re still living in the first year of this. We haven’t gotten to cold and flu season, and so there is a lot of unknowns,” Jacobson said.

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Both she and Dr. Mandie Tibball Svatek, pediatrician at University Hospital System, said it’s believed the CDC is generally correct about school-age children appearing to be less at risk of severe COVID-19 complications and less likely to pass on the virus.

However, they pointed out that's apparently the case for those age 10 or younger, but not so the older they get.

There's also conflicting data.

“Children may not transmit to the household as bad as we think. But then, there is other data that says maybe they say they still can,” said Svatek, who is part of a COVID-19 response coalition, working with the Metropolitan Health District on the issue.

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Svatek said they’re developing metrics to help school districts decide how to proceed.

“When do we have to worry about when there’s a case within the school? And how many cases would it take for a classroom to close off for 14 days or even a school to be closed or even the school district?” Svatek said.

She said a town hall is being planned for early August in hopes of giving students, parents, teachers the answers they need.

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