Parents divided on safety, masking in schools as delta variant continues hospitalizing children

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 8:46 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 16, 2021 at 10:33 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -As the delta variant continues to put adults, teens, and children in the hospital, New Orleans Public Schools parents say they need options.

“We want parents to have a virtual option,” said Ashana Bigard.

“They’re all worried about learning loss while kids can’t learn while they’re on a ventilator,” said Daniel Zimmerman.

New Orleans Public Schools says it makes distance learning available only in special cases of quarantine or to students with health concerns.

Now with more than 3 thousand students and staff in quarantine, the system maintains that the data is, “reflective of community spread and reflective of the increases in cases in the greater New Orleans area.” Also saying that “Our children are safer in school, given our mitigation efforts.”

“But in-person is not the best at this time… I would much rather learning loss than family loss. 19 dead children can’t learn,” said Ashonta Wyatt.

“A month ago, we had 10 pediatric admits in a weeks’ time 10 per week. This past week we had 88,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter with the Louisiana Department of Health.

Meanwhile, miles away during a state House Health and Welfare Committee meeting, some parents continue to push back against health leaders saying they refuse to believe them.

“We are asking for the choice to have parents mask their kids in school,” said Brandy Pugh. “Hearing from Dr. Kanter and Dr. Block this morning, they’re exactly why we don’t trust our government with our kids and making medical choices. In my experience, I have five children. I have one infant who’s died so I understand that child loss happens.”

Health leaders maintain though that children are getting sick and vaccines and masking are the way out.

“We are seeing more kids get sick with delta than ever before,” said Kanter.

New Orleans Public School parents wanting a virtual option say they have no problem with the mask mandate, they encourage it.

The school system says for a family to move virtual, they must have documentation from a physician and provide it to the school for review and approval.

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