Will spring break travel lead to rise in COVID-19 cases in schools?

AUSTIN (KXAN) — With many people returning from spring break, could we see another surge of COVID-19 cases?

Medical professionals like Dr. William Schaffner with Vanderbilt University Medical Center say it’s possible.

“I know you can be out on the beach and be separate and that is outdoors and lower risk, but then you go to the bars and restaurants, and sometimes students have romantic relationships and those are environments in which this virus can spread,” Schaffner said.

Many of the people returning are students heading back to the classrooms.

“Very young children are much less apt to become severely ill,” Schaffner said. “So at the present time, everything we are doing to make schools safe, especially kindergartners through middle school students, I am not terribly worried about that. I am however worried about occasional high school and certainly college outbreaks.”

Schaffner says with some states relaxing their mask guidelines, people might become more casual about masks and let their guard down. In Austin, masks are still required, but across the state, many counties have dropped the mask mandate.

“Then these folks are going to return to their homes, to their colleges, and perhaps spread it to others,” Schaffner said, “setting up mini outbreaks all across the country. I am worried about another surge.”

Another concern is the potential spread of more serious variants of the virus that have gained a foothold in the US.

“We are vaccinating more, but this new variant is out there and there are a lot of people behaving casually, so those two things are working against each other,” said Schaffner. “As I like to say we are on the 10-yard line, let’s not fumble the ball.”

Wearing a mask and getting vaccinated are highly encouraged by Schaffner and other medical professionals alike.

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