To mask or not to mask. It’s been the big debate in school systems across the Greater Birmingham Area as more children fall ill to COVID’s Delta variant. Here’s why one local infectious disease specialist at from UAB and Children’s of Alabama is expressing great concern.
In a UAB Medicine news conference on Tuesday, August 10, Dr. David Kimberlin, MD, co-director of UAB and Children’s of Alabama’s Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, made it clear he is highly concerned the delta variant will continue to spread to children. Especially for children under the age of 12 who are currently unable to be vaccinated, as well as those in school systems without mandatory masking.
“It doesn’t do us very much good to launch into a school year, only to have to stop in-person learning because the virus is running crazy throughout the school.”Dr. David Kimberlin, MD/Co-Director, UAB and Children’s of Alabama’s Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases
What makes the Delta variant so worrisome?
According to Kimberlin, while we all have all seen what COVID-19 is capable of, there is a key difference between it and the Delta variant.
“The difference is how incredibly transmissible the Delta variant is. It has mutated into a hyper transmissible, hyper infectious version of COVID. The only virus more transmissible and more easily spread than this new virus of the COVID virus is measles.
With a virus that is so transmission, it will make last year look tame.”Dr. David Kimberlin, MD/Co-Director, UAB and Children’s of Alabama’s Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases
On Wednesday, August 12, Children’s of Alabama posted the following on social media.
School systems decide
While Governor Kay Ivey said she would not force a mask order in Alabama’s schools for the 2021-2022 school year, some local area school systems have chosen to require mandatory masking, while others have opted for optional masking.
Here’s what schools have opted to do so far:
- Birmingham City Schools: mandatory masking
- Hoover City Schools: mandatory masking for first 30 days + new virtual learning option
- Homewood City Schools: mandatory masking
- Mountain Brook City Schools: mandatory masking + virtual learning option
- Shelby County Schools: optional masking
- Trussville City Schools: masking in limited circumstances
How can schools help slow the spread of COVID in students?
According to Kimberlin, there are several ways schools around the Greater Birmingham Area can help slow the spread of COVID and the Delta Variant. They include:
- Contact tracing
- Aggressive testing
- Getting vaccinated if you are 12 years old or older
For more information on COVID and how to keep kids safe, visit these links:
- Alabama Department of Education
- Alabama Public Health
- Children’s of Alabama
- Jefferson County Department of Health
To avoid another city shut down, protect yourself, children and others, mask up Birmingham.