Masks and social distancing still needed this spring break

With the Texas mask mandate expiring tomorrow, you may be wondering what this means for your child and family.

You may be asking questions like:

“Does my child still need to wear a mask?”

“What does this mean for my child’s school?”

“Can we have a normal spring break?”

Mandate or no mandate, unfortunately COVID-19 is still spreading in our community. This means unvaccinated people, including children, are still at risk for developing the disease and severe symptoms.

According to Marc Mazade, M.D., medical director of Infection Prevention and Control at Cook Children's Medical Center, Tarrant County (and many other Texas counties) remains in a state of substantial transmission according to public health advisories. This means large-scale community transmission is still occurring, including within communal settings such as schools and workplaces.

At Cook Children’s, the number of COVID-19 patients has dropped dramatically since peaking in January. Our rate of patients testing positive within a seven day period is now below 4%. At the beginning of 2021, that rate was over 20%, meaning we are making progress. (See chart below.)

To continue this trend, Dr. Mazade says we must remain vigilant, especially in schools.

“Shortly after Memorial Day 2020, we released our ‘Recommendations for the Safe Reopening of Schools K-12 in Texas,’ which urged the wearing of masks in schools and elsewhere in the community,” said Dr. Mazade. “Our recommendations have not changed as they were developed with a scientific understanding of how infections spread and of basic human nature.”

Dr. Mazade urges everyone to revisit these recommendations and says they are as important today as ever.

“As most people are now aware, more highly transmissible and even some vaccine-resistant COVID-19 strains are gaining a foothold. Now is not the time to relax. Rather it is the time for even more vigilance,” said Dr. Mazade.

With spring break coming up (or even in full swing for some), it’s vital to remember the basics of COVID-19 prevention:

  • Wear a mask around people outside of your household
  • Stay six feet away from others
  • Wash your hands diligently

“We all want to get back to normal, but this spring break is not the time to let your guard down,” said Dr. Mazade.

This message could seem confusing with changes like the Texas mask mandate expiring and a new direction from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that says fully-vaccinated people can gather without masks. Despite these changes, parents need to stay the course until children are able to be vaccinated against COVID-19, which could happen later this year.

“We must trust the people who best understand what we are up against and how best to combat it and follow their lead,” he said. “When the CDC eradicated smallpox, it did so because it never stopped pressing, diligently researching disease clusters, vaccinating everyone wherever disease emerged, never abandoning the objective. We all would do well to remember that we live and interact closely with many beloved yet vulnerable teachers, students, and family members who benefit from our diligent adherence to public health guidance.”