KANSAS CITY, Mo. — COVID-19 and children too young to be vaccinated. The focus on the issue has intensified as some Kansas City area school districts choose not to require masks for students less than 12-years-old.
On Monday night the Board of Education for Blue Valley Schools voted to make masks optional. Other Kansas districts could follow suit.
The concern is not only about students getting COVID-19 but also about after effects from the virus.
According to the most recent numbers from the State of Kansas, there have now been 17 cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) – a rare but dangerous condition that can affect children who have had COVID-19.
COVID-19 and the more contagious delta variant is particularly risky for ‘medically fragile’ children.
Seven-year-old Robert Hernandez is too young to get the vaccine but as a Type 1 diabetic, he is no stranger to needles.
“I’m not to scared of shots. I mean, sometimes I’ll cry but mostly, no,” Hernandez said.
According to the CDC, having either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19.
“I wear masks like most of the time but sometimes I don’t really wear a mask because there’s not that many people in here, like just us,” Hernandez said. “But mostly I’ll wear masks.”
But at elementary schools the question of mask requirements for kids under 12 remains an open question.
It is concerning for health professionals at Children’s Mercy Hospital which currently has 11 COVID-19 patients. Dr. Angela Myers, director of the division of infectious diseases for Children’s Mercy Hospital, said there are also risks for children after having COVID.
“Children develop that multi-system inflamatory syndrome typically 4-6 weeks after an acute COVID infection. And that infection doesn’t need to be severe. It can be really mild or even asymtomatic,” Myers said. “So you should keep that in mind. It’s not just for kids who have severe infection. “We may be having a bunch of kids go back to school without masks. I think it’s a recipe for disaster.”
Joey Thomas, owner of 180V Barber Salon hosting Tuesday’s vaccination clinic facilitated by Truman Medical Center said kids would be affected beyond health issues if the second COVID spike worsens.
“I can kind of go on and on because I know situations like that where, economically, families losing things and didn’t know what tomorrow was going to bring. So we know some of those stories first hand,” Thomas said.
“I’ve know several people that have died from it so none of that is needed to be proven. I think more so than anything right now it’s all about the preventative measures,” Thomas said.
This week the American Academy of Pediatricts recommended masking for everyone in schools over the age of two.
Last week the Johnson County Health Department also recommended masks in schools citing concerns about rising COVID cases in the county.
On Tuesday evening the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools are expected to vote on a masking policy.