ST. LOUIS – An increase in COVID-19 cases among middle and high school students has prompted some schools in the St. Louis area to switch to virtual classes again.
Wentzville Middle School is now back to virtual classers after seeing a sharp increase in seventh and eighth graders testing positive for the coronavirus. In a nine-hour period Wednesday, the school district said it got test results from families and the positive numbers jumped from 16 to 25.
The district says 386 students are now in full quarantine and 204 in modified quarantine. The action only applies to Wentzville Middle School. The school will stay with virtual learning until May 6 when the board of education will review the situation.
In Illinois, parents got a letter from the superintendent of Bond County Community Unit School District No. 2. It says there has been an increase in positive COVID cases at Bond County High School and it has now changed to virtual classes through May 3.
Officials aren’t pointing to certain events as the place where COVID was spread but they say student to student transmission is the likely reason for the increase in positive tests.
“As vaccines have increased in the community, things in general have opened up, providing more opportunities for our teenagers and kids to be around each other more in those social settings, that we know account for most of those cases,” Dr. Rachel Charney, medical director of disaster preparedness at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, said.
How serious is the burden of this disease on children?
“Well, certainly they account for a lot less of the severe disease compared to the adult population,” Charney said. “Hospitalizations, only a small fraction of them, have been from children and adolescents. However, we know that just because there is less disease and less severity in our kids does not mean they cannot become particularly ill that is still a possibility.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics is reporting children used to make up 5% to 10% of all new COVID cases but that number is now up to 21%.