OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Back-to-school season in the Kansas City area is back in full-swing with the most normal-feeling-return since the start of the pandemic.

Health leaders at the local and federal level say that heightened immunity levels paved the way for relaxing rules related to COVID-19 exposures.

“All things considered on that exposure, we know that not everyone is going to come down with it. And the more that we take people out of their elements because of an exposure, they’re less likely to take the precautions that they really need to take when they really are sick,” Dr. Ginny Boos, director of Infection Prevention in the Saint Luke’s Health System, said.

The White House COVID-19 response team is also reflecting on the change, saying the virus will probably be with us for the rest of our lives.

“The bottom line is, you know, like the virus right now is evolving very rapidly. That’s why we’re seeing these subvariants come on every few months, major variants every 6-9 months. That may continue for a little while, but we’re getting better, too. We’re updating our vaccines. We’re gonna have a whole new generation of vaccines this fall,” Dr. Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 response coordinator, said.

But the challenge now falls to parents who need to make determinations on the health of their schoolkids.

“Because we know that we have multiple viruses circulating and sorting through that — or what about those seasonal allergies,” Boos said. “Sometimes you’re going to guess wrong and sometimes you’re going to guess right.”

The CDC’s guidelines recommend wearing a mask for 10 days following an exposure. That guideline holds true for people both vaccinated and unvaccinated.

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