A little kid lays on a pillow with his eyes closed. He has his hand on his forehead and a thermometer in his mouth.

Photo Credit: Viki_B / PixaBay

School Pushed Back for Most Kids

Kids of essential workers can go back on January 4th

The news comes as more kids in the US get hospitalized with COVID

Were you hoping to send your kids back to school next week? If you work in health care, social services, law enforcement, or emergency response, then you’ll get to do that.

If you don’t, your kids get an extra week of Christmas vacation.

The province is staggering school starts for kids while they figure out what to do with the new Omicron surge.

The Omicron variant is driving this fifth COVID wave. In BC, record numbers of people are testing positive. However, yesterday, Dr. Bonnie Henry admitted that these numbers are low. There could be 4 or 5 times more people in the province who have COVID and just aren’t getting tested.

Or they can’t get tested—COVID testing sites are totally overwhelmed right now.

Two BC moms have been tracking school outbreaks for more than a year. Kathy Marliss from Richmond and Andrea Rosszman from Vancouver Island run the BC School COVID Tracker website and Facebook page.

Their website has more than 12,000 school exposures from around the province. Nearly a third of those exposures are from the last four months.

Marliss told the Comox Valley Record that she checks the BC Centre for Disease Control site every day. But most of the information they share comes directly from folks in the community.

“People come to us,” she said. “I even have school administrators writing us and giving us information… A lot of administrators are expressing frustration about that wall that has been built, that they can’t protect their own community.”

And they only share information when they have proof. “All the entries on the database come from people who either have a letter from the school or public health, or they have tested positive themselves.”

Marliss isn’t surprised by the spike in kids getting COVID. “We knew transmission in schools was happening, despite the government using a very different narrative,” she said.

“Now that the teachers were fully protected, with their two doses, we knew we were going to hear mostly about kids being sick, rather than adults being sick, and that’s what happened.”

Figuring out what to do with the kids for another week will be hard.

But it might also be the best way to protect them. The Omicron variant hit the US earlier than it hit Canada. Doctors are warning that more kids are being hospitalized with COVID.

In the last month, Washington DC has seen double the number of kids in hospital than before. In New York, it’s five times the number of kids.

In just the last week, across all of the US, kids in hospital with COVID went up by 48%.

Dr. Stanley Spinner is the chief medical officer and vice president at Texas Children’s Pediatrics & Urgent Care in Houston. He told CNN, “[w]hat’s concerning on the (pediatric) side is that…what we’re really seeing, we think, is an increasing number of kids being hospitalized.”

Most of the really sick kids are unvaccinated or under-vaccinated, he said. “I can tell you that virtually all of our kids that are hospitalized have either been unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.”

In BC, we won’t know how bad things are for another week or so. It always takes a while to figure out how many people who have COVID will end up in the hospital.

Until then, we’ll have to keep most of the little ones at home.

Maybe now is a good time for them to work on their snow forts.

At least that means they’re outside and not in your hair.