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'It took my 9-year-old healthy child down' | Houston-area mom shares COVID-19 struggle while new data suggest more cases in coming weeks

New medical models predict high percentages of infection among unmasked students versus those required to wear masks.

HUMBLE, Texas — From excitement on her first day of school to misery in the third week due to a positive case of COVID-19, Shannon Young’s 4th grader, Mya, is finally feeling better after battling a fever, cough, fatigue and stomach pain.

"A few days ago, she woke my up in the middle of the night. She didn’t feel well,” Young said. "You hear a lot about, 'Oh, COVID’s not really affecting children.' It took her down. It took my 9-year-old healthy child down.”

Mya wears a mask. But Humble ISD, where she attends school, doesn’t require them, which is the case in most districts.

And that could make a big difference in the coming weeks, according to new models by Baylor College of Medicine.

"Very similar to when there’s a tropic depression out in the Atlantic," said Dr. James McDeavitt, Executive VP and Dean of Clinical Affairs. "The prediction about whether or not it becomes a hurricane.”

Researchers used a hypothetical school scenario with current infection data and other measures.

The models, or predictions, show that 3 percent of students in schools where face coverings are required will be infected with COVID-19 within the next 28 days. The number jumps to as high as 22 percent of students in schools where mask usage is at a minimum.

Obviously, varying degrees of mask usage also has an impact.

"Bottom line is that without following safe practices in schools, we’re probably headed to having to shut some schools down, which we’re already seeing happening in the community," Dr. McDeavitt said.

Young and other families demonstrated outside Humble ISD headquarters just this week, and she still wasn't sure about sending Mya back to school when she's able to return.

"We have a wonderful principal and wonderful assistant principal who were able to put in place any request I had, except for the masks, to try and keep her safe," Young said. "Yet she still got it.”

Dr. McDeavitt told us he believes we may be at the top of a wave when it comes to COVID-19 cases in the community and that he hoped spread in schools doesn’t set us back.

Meantime, many districts that don’t require masks say they are strongly encouraged along with other protocols that are in place.

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