KU doc: 'Our fear is that schools will end up having to close again'

Dr. Steve Stites
Posted at 12:16 PM, Aug 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 13:16:35-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As students in the Kansas City area begin to head back to the classroom, doctors are urging schools to mask up students to ensure they're not sent back home.

Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System, said that the return to school this year is more dangerous to students because of the delta variant.

"That means that the potential for harm to kids at schools is much greater this year than last year," Stites said during a daily University of Kansas Health System COVID-19 briefing.

In addition to masking, he urged students 12 and older to get vaccinated, in order to slow the spread of the virus.

"The delta variant is more transmissible, it happens in a shorter period of time, it takes 2 to 4 minutes instead of 8 to 12 minutes of close contact," Stites said.

Last year, many districts in the area opted to send students back to school in a hybrid model or remote learning. However, most districts in the area are returning to full in-person learning, another concern for Stites.

"Especially because 'A,' most kids are still unvaccinated, 'B,' schools are gonna go back full throttle and 'C,' there's not gonna be same degree of distancing," he said. "Our fear is that schools will end up having to close again and we think that's a really bad outcome."

In the Kansas City area, most school districts have implemented a mask mandate of some sort to start the school year.