Going back is certain, but school COVID-19 procedures still unclear

Excerpts and edited notes for this blog were referenced from an “Ask An Expert” KCBS radio station 740 FM segment on June 11, 2021 at 9:43 AM hosted by Stan Bunger. The following information was prepared by Natalia Gurevich. This blog is presented for viewers to validate, accept and/or decline its content and findings on their own.

Ask An Expert

Summer is going by fast, and the state’s reopening next week is sure to rev things up even more.

For those who are still in school or have children still in school, it’s still unclear what the fall semester is going to look like.

Dr. Monica Gandhi, professor of medicine at UCSF and Associate Division Chief of the Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases and Global Medicine at San Francisco General Hospital, offered her take on the dilemma. “Fortunately, children are less likely to be exposed as more and more people get vaccinated,” Dr. Gandhi told KCBS Radio’s “Ask An Expert” on Thursday. “Like a child who is less than 12, they are protected by the low rates of community transmission and everyone else’s immunity around them.”

Dr. Gandhi herself has an 11-year-old, she added, and in the city at least she hasn’t been too worried. “We do a lot of swabbing here in San Francisco, and there were 12 cases a day at the most, with a very low test-positivity rate.”

With returning to school, Dr. Gandhi acknowledged that there is a lot up in the air. With more and more vaccinations happening, numbers get adjusted.

“All the past openings, surges and subsequent closings wouldn’t happen now, she said, with all these high rates of community immunity. “When you open schools in the fall, if our community transmission and hospitalization rates stay low,” she said. “Then the way a child is protected is through that.”

Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, that reopened schools where children aren’t masked at all, there was no increase in cases among children, she added.

Overall, Dr. Gandhi is excited for the next steps the state is taking.

“We are standing in a very wonderful position because we have these vaccines and we’re very lucky,” said Dr. Gandhi. “June 15 is going to be a great day, I think it’s an important day to say that the state is opening.”

But we aren’t out of the woods yet.

“I think we still need some residual clarity around masking, which is confusing at the moment,” she said.

Globally, COVID-19 vaccine distribution is still far behind in low-income countries, she added. Dr. Gandhi hopes to turn her attention there.