A Pediatrician’s Thoughts on Sending Her Children Back to School Amid Omicron
Mixed emotions including frustration, worry and anxiousness (to name a few) fill my being yet again on the eve of the day my kids return back to school. It is no longer a new experience for me or the many other parents who have experienced the same feelings over the last 22 months.
The significant positivity rate in our community and the marked rapid increase in the pediatric cases and pediatric hospitalizations in the last week and a half (all while kids are out of school) is what causes some of my angst. Unfortunately, now it is not too uncommon to hear situations in which people “did all the right things” but COVID still veered its way in. So while I have been able to shield and protect my own children from being infected during the pandemic so far, I fear that the time will come when the inevitable will happen to my own. What’s different now?
In the midst of all these emotions, I look for the silver lining in our current situation. My kids are NOW vaccinated! Although we are well aware that even fully vaccinated people are susceptible to infection they are less likely to develop severe disease and the need for hospitalization. So in the midst of the mixed emotions I have come to the point of realization and acceptance that this time around I will not likely be able to shield my own children from becoming infected with the current COVID omicron variant.
The current significant community positivity rate makes exposure and subsequent infection while attending school more likely in the era of optional masking and confusion regarding isolation/quarantine recommendations. In the midst of an ongoing roller coaster of emotions, I will hold on to what I can control and continue to practice and encourage my own children to practice preventive precautions as best we can, including vaccination (done), hand washing and mask-wearing.
I make the same recommendations to my own patients and their families including the following disease prevention strategies:
- Eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly
- Get plenty of sleep
- Drink plenty of water
- Do not send sick children to school (regardless of COVID exposures or not). Keeping sick children home is the best way to prevent spread in the school setting.
- Get yourself/or your child tested if you/they develop any symptoms of COVID-19. Testing and identifying infections and subsequent proper isolation practices will prevent further spread.
- Get vaccinated if you haven't already and get a booster if you or your child are eligible (primary series approved for 5 years old and up, boosters approved from 16 and up and anticipating approval for 12-15 year olds soon).
- Practice good hand hygiene, wear a mask and avoid large crowds.
Given the ongoing change and updates to guidance regarding isolation/quarantine guidelines for different populations of the community, we know that navigating these situations can become confusing and overwhelming. For questions regarding testing, length of quarantine or isolation, and the COVID-19 vaccine for your child, please ask your pediatrician for guidance.
Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year!
Get to know Bianka Soria-Olmos, D.O.
Dr. Soria-Olmos is a Cook Children's pediatrician in Haslet. She was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, so Cook Children's has always had a special place in her heart. She came to know Cook Children's when she was just a kid herself. She went to the medical center a number of times with her active younger brother, who needed care following several mishaps with broken bones. The visits inspired her to decide, "I want to be a Cook Children’s doctor one day."
In pursuit of her dream, Dr. Soria-Olmos attended Texas Christian University (TCU) for a degree in biology and to fulfill the pre-medical school requirements. After graduating from TCU, she chose to stay local and attended medical school at the University of North Texas Health Science Center/Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Worth. She completed part of her pediatric clerkship at Cook Children's, learning about pediatric medicine by attending rounds with pediatric hospitalists. It was then she knew she wanted to be a pediatrician.
She began her career with Cook Children's in 2014 as a pediatric hospitalist caring for sick children admitted to the hospital. Today, she works at Cook Children's primary care office in Haslet. Her special interests include child safety, child development and asthma.