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Harris County doctor encourages parents to be vigilant as more children return to in-person learning

“From our point of view, it’s still a little bit early to say if cases are or aren’t being affected by schools reopening," said Dr. Maria Rivera with Harris County.

HOUSTON — Because we’re your education station, we are keeping track of COVID-19 in public schools. So far, the Houston area has done well. No major outbreaks have been reported among staff or students in Houston-area schools.

No matter the district, at this point, school is back in session. But remember, this year school districts opened on different days with different in-person capacities and different safety measures.

“From our point of view, it’s still a little bit early to say if cases are or aren’t being affected by schools reopening,” said Dr. Maria Rivera, a pediatrician who is part of Harris County Public Health’s school advisory group. Rivera is helping the health department guide school districts through this pandemic.

“They’re mandated to report locally, and they’re also mandated to report at the state level,” Rivera said.

The state of Texas is tracking positive COVID-19 cases in public schools. But these numbers are only updated on Wednesdays, and we don’t know how many people have recovered. County cases are not always tallied in real time. Sometimes backups in a lab can lead to a backlog of confirmed cases.

“Regardless of what the numbers are doing, those will continue to always be our recommendations as long as we’re in this pandemic,” said Rivera of washing your hands, wearing a mask and keeping a social distance.

And when it comes to testing children for COVID-19, Dr. Rivera said it should happen when a child is exposed to someone who has the virus, when the child is showing symptoms, or when they’re in a large group.

“One of the biggest messages that we want to give parents is that if they think their child may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 regardless of whether or not they have symptoms, they should get their children tested.”

As the school year moves forward and more students slowly return to the classroom, remember, “They can get sick. They do get sick. They can get really sick,” and they can spread the virus to someone else, Rivera said.