Back to School: As COVID restrictions ease, parents say other health concerns linger

Even though classrooms are seeing relaxed COVID-19 restrictions ahead of the school year, parents say they still have concerns that include cyberbullying, isolation since the pandemic and the fear of school shootings.

News 12 Staff

Aug 30, 2022, 10:22 PM

Updated 633 days ago


For the first time since the pandemic started, schools are starting to see relaxed COVID-19 restrictions in classrooms.
Hudson Valley parents told News 12 that they were hoping for a school year “with not too much COVID drama again.”
Some parents say they are concerned about other viruses, such as polio and monkeypox.
Dr. Sandra Kesh, an infectious disease expert, says if your children are vaccinated for polio, you can relax.
"For children who are immunocompromised or who can't get vaccinated for other reasons, they should take extra measures," she said. "Just [pay] extra caution to who your kids are playing with, what sort of environment you have them in.”
She says you should also take those steps if your children haven't completed their polio vaccination series.
When it comes to monkeypox, only children with rare immunodeficiencies can get the vaccine right now – but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say children have a low risk of contracting the virus.
Health professionals say there is the chance for transmission in school through direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs or body fluids.
“It is a scenario that we do worry about," says Kesh. "[Schools] can't sit on the sidelines. There needs to be education, awareness, consistent enforcement of school policies and procedures."
Dr. Eric Byrne, the superintendent of Rye schools and the president of the council representing all 78 public school districts in Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess and Rockland counties, says they are prepared to keep students safe.
"We've made changes to how we clean buildings, how we filter air…we've become really good at pivoting," he said. "Those kinds of practices that helped us navigate the pandemic are going to help us continue to navigate future public health issues."
Based on guidance from health officials, Byrne is not overly concerned about outbreaks of polio or monkeypox in schools.
"The reality is that New York state has had a pretty robust immunization requirement for many years," he said.
But COVID shots are not required. Data shows that more than 70% of students ages 12-17 are vaccinated in the Mid-Hudson region. But it’s less than 40% for students ages 5-11.
Byrne says parents should not send their children to school if they are sick.

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