State reports decrease in COVID-19 school case numbers

(Caroline County Public Schools via NBC12)
Published: Sep. 12, 2021 at 9:30 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The Alabama Department of Public Health’s (ADPH) school covid-19 dashboard shows a drop in cases among school age children this week.

“I think we have enough data to say masks work,” Dr. Karen Landers with ADPH said. “Let’s just quit having that argument.”

Landers said she knows many parents and administrators believe children shouldn’t be masked in schools, but she said data shows the benefits.

“We really have to look at it in terms of data,” Landers said. “That is where we make the decisions. I think having universal masking and three feet of distance is a change the CDC made in school guidance for this year, really based upon some studies that were done in Duke University Department of Pediatrics. That was really very helpful.”

Landers said universal masking, where everyone is wearing one, is the most beneficial way, and paired with social distancing, it can cut down numbers of kids quarantining at home just because of an exposure.

“We want kids in school so they can learn and benefit from social interaction,” she said. “So they can get breakfast and lunch. A lot of kids depend upon that.”

Landers said it’s also important to consider children’s mental health when masking in schools.

“Masks aren’t harmful to children,” Landers said. “But, if children get COVID or they have a family member that gets COVID, that family member is sick and hospitalized, that family member dies, that is what is going to stress the child, not wearing a mask. The stress on the children is going to be related to their loss of ability to be in the classroom and their ability to have more interaction with their peers.”

With some district’s mask policies expiring at the end of the month, Landers said it is hard to say how long face coverings are needed. It is just until numbers start going down more.

“I think a lot of people want a timeline,” she said. ‘Well two weeks will be good.’ Well, think about the incubation period of COVID for two weeks, so that is not really going to be helpful.”

135 school systems reported for this week’s total numbers. That is almost every district in the state.

Click here for the dashboard.

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