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Ormond Beach Observer Thursday, Jul. 30, 2020 2 years ago

Going back to school? AdventHealth doctors say basic prevention measures are key

Adults have been told to wash hands, wear a mask and social distance. Kids should do the same.
by: Jarleene Almenas Senior Editor

With schools reopening in August, AdventHealth doctors said parents and students should keep in mind the basic guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the classroom: Wear masks, social distance and wash hands frequently. 

As for school districts, they should be transparent about cases and make sure their teachers and staff have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, said Dr. Tim Hendrix, medical director of AdventHealth Centra Care, during a COVID-19 morning briefing on Thursday, July 30.

“We are concerned, and concern is a good thing," Hendrix said. "We want to make sure our schools are safe, our children are safe. We just have to watch on a day to day basis and be ready for it and be ready to adapt.”

To encourage children to follow the recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, parents should be modeling "good behaviors," said Dr. Sarah Li of AdventHealth Medical Group Pediatrics at Winter Garden. As a pediatrician, Li said that when kids come in for their appointments, she tries to positively reinforce their mask wearing habits by telling they're doing a good job. Li said masks should not be scary to children, and parents can help their children become accustomed to wearing one by having discussions on their importance, or for younger children, parents could place them on stuffed animals or personalize them together.

“It can be quite difficult obviously for younger kids, but the more practice they get, the better," Li said.

She also debunked the idea that masks are harmful, stating they do not filter out oxygen or keep in carbon dioxide. 

When asked about whether schools installing new "virus-killing" air filtration systems should reassure parents, Hendrix said the jury is still out on whether that technology is effective. 

“There’s still questions on whether this is an airborne virus, meaning that like measles, it can hang in the air for several hours and cause infections," Hendrix said.

But, is that lingering virus still viable to cause infection? Hendrix said doctors don't know yet and that the best prevention is having students get fresh air often.

When this isn't an option, students should be wearing a face covering. He recommended a double-layer cloth mask, to be washed daily, as they are more comfortable than surgical masks. Masks are the key to reducing transmissions, being as they are 70% effective, Hendrix said.

"100%, everybody needs to be in a mask if you’re in school, is my opinion," he said.

Li said whatever choice parents have taken in regards to their child's education is the right thing. 

"This is going to be a new school year," Li said. "Maybe it’s very different than what they’ve experienced in the past, but at the same time, kids do look forward to school every year — whether they’re seeing their friends in person or virtually, or a combination of both."

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