Schools reopen amid omicron, pediatric hospitalizations


(NewsNation Now) — Students are returning to school following their winter break, but with a late December spike in pediatric COVID cases, many districts are changing up their safety protocols.

For the first week of January, more than 2,000 schools nationwide were prepared to close for at least one day due to COVID-19 concerns, according to Burbio, a company that tracks school data.

“We are seeing more children in sheer numbers admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 right now,” Dr. Matthew Davis, chair of the Department of Pediatrics at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, said during an appearance on “Morning in America.”

However, of those cases, Davis said, “We have a small proportion who are admitted to the intensive care unit because of their symptoms.”

The uptick in cases among kids is obviously concerning to parents, but, “What we’re seeing here in Chicago is that most kids with omicron COVID are having milder symptoms than, for example, what we saw with the Delta variant,” Davis said.

Cough, congestion, runny nose and fatigue are omicron symptoms, similar to earlier variants of COVID.

“Some kids have body aches as well,” Davis said. And, “It seems that with omicron fewer people are losing their sense of taste or smell.”

Symptoms occur in the three to five-day window where it’s easiest to transmit omicron to others. But, “We can see symptoms for up to 10 days, like with other variants of this illness,” Davis said.

Weekly testing being instituted at some schools is designed to identify kids who are without symptoms but still have COVID and help them stay out of school for a few days to prevent the spread to others.

“We know that those schools can see a reduced spread of COVID in their classrooms,” Davis said. “That said, in order to have effective routine testing, you need resources for the schools to conduct the testing. And you need supportive parents to help get the testing done.”

Watch the full interview with Dr. Matthew Davis in the video player at the top of the page.

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