RVH pediatrician supports return to school amid rising COVID-19 cases

While parents struggle with sending their children too young to be vaccinated back to school amid rising COVID-19 cases, Dr. Rania Hiram says it is necessary for their well-being.

"It's been a year and a half of us being in and out of lockdowns. We are seeing a significant rise in the incidents of mental health, developmental issues, [and] eating disorders," the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre pediatrician says.

Parents who signed up for in-person learning back in June when infection rates were low have learned they aren't able to change their minds.

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While Hiram admits there are concerns and anxiety surrounding the Delta variant, she says young children who contract COVID-19 typically exhibit mild symptoms.

"We've seen very few COVID infections, and in those who are sick with COVID, they are very mildly ill, to the point where some kids probably have very few symptoms but get tested just to make sure." Hiram says these children recover "within a day or two."

She adds there hasn't been a spike in cases among children despite the threat of the more contagious Delta variant and believes a vaccine may be available to the younger population sooner than later.

"It seems quite promising, actually. I was reading that both Pfizer and Moderna are currently conducting clinical trials for vaccines - I believe it's five to 12, which is great because it would cover our school-aged population."

Harim says until those results are published in the coming months, it's important to continue safety measures.

"I think that there are a lot of things we can do to try and keep our children safe."

School boards across the region have installed specialized ventilation systems to optimize the air quality in all schools, as required by the Ministry of Education, along with several other COVID-19 protocols, including cohorting and masking.