OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Health experts are nervous about a spike in COVID-19 cases with kids and teens.
This week, Shawnee Mission Schools quarantined nearly 200 students after a few positive cases on spring sports teams.
As several metro districts see an uptick of COVID-19 illness and exposure, getting those students who are eligible vaccinated will help stop the spread and allow highly anticipated events to carry on.
As the school year winds down, the virus isn’t going away.
“We’ve seen a little bit of uptick in our adolescent population,” said Dr. Angela Myers, Children’s Mercy Hospital infectious diseases division director.
According to school district COVID-19 trackers, Shawnee Mission is at its highest quarantine level since February, with 192 kids in active isolation. Many of those are tied to sports, where kids are interacting without masks. The majority of students in isolation have tested negative for COVID-19 thus far.
“There’s a different level of risk there than in being in school. So the vast majority of those kids were not out of school at all. They were just quarantined from sports participation,” said David Smith, SMSD spokesperson.
Blue Valley and Olathe are also seeing spikes.
In Lee’s Summit, there’s been a steady climb in April with 144 students currently quarantined.
Mom Wendy Baird wasn’t happy with how Independence Schools were tracking COVID-19 trends, so she started keeping tabs herself. She noticed this month, the district hit an all-time building record with 25 cases in one high school and near quarantine peaks at almost 200 kids.
“Just as you think things might be looking better and it might be safer to send your kiddo back, then you might rethink that, and so that’s why our family is still virtual,” Baird said.
Children’s Mercy stresses these trends are exactly why it’s critical to get eligible teens vaccinated. The more shots in arms, the less chance COVID-19 can spread to those who can’t get the shot yet.
“We want to vaccinate kids so we can protect everybody. We call that cocooning just like we do for influenza vaccine. We want to vaccinate entire family to protect those on the extremes of age, grandparents and the babies,” Myers said.
For proms and graduations to continue, health officials say it’s also a reminder we can’t let down our guard, and precautions to prevent COVID-19’s spread are still needed.
“Let’s knock this out, and let’s make safe choices until we can all get back together again safely,” Baird said.
While kids typically have less severe illness with COVID-19, Children’s Mercy does have nine kids in the hospital battling the virus right now.
The hospital is hosting a vaccine clinic at its Overland Park campus Saturday, and appointments are still available.
If you’d like to get your 16- to 21-year-olds signed up for the vaccine at CMH, you can do so through Children’s Mercy’s patient portal online or you can make an appointment by calling 816-234-3700.