DALLAS - Doctors say the spread of the COVID-19 delta variant is increasing the pediatric hospital numbers. It’s something school administrators are watching as well.
North Texas superintendents all say their districts continue to face tremendous challenges.
Many teachers are choosing to retire early due to the pandemic. Students continue to face learning loss. Many are hospitalized with COVID-19.
The latest UT Southwestern report shows pediatric COVID hospitalizations have more than doubled since January.
During a virtual chat hosted by the Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.
Superintendents described the long-term concerns for public education in the pandemic.
Leaders from Carrollton-Farmers Branch, Coppell and Irving ISDs shed light on those challenges.
"This isn't going to go away in the 21-22 school year. We've got a lot of work ahead of us," said CFBISD Superintendent John Chapman.
All of them are concerned with teacher burnout.
"Many of our teachers have said they're April, May tired and it's only September," said Coppell ISD Superintendent Brad Hunt.
The administrators also worry about the growing learning gap.
The Texas Education Agency estimates children have lost about three months’ worth of learning.
"It's going to take all of us to get back on track," said Irving ISD Superintendent Magda Hernandez.
Coppell and Carrollton-Farmers Branch both offer virtual learning for certain students — at least for now.
State lawmakers recently approved funding for virtual classes on a limited basis.
"Again, it was because my child cannot get a vaccine at this time, so we understood that," Chapman said.
The latest UT Southwestern COVID forecast finds pediatric hospital admissions continue to climb rapidly. It’s likely the impact of return to in-person learning and some students too young or unable to get vaccinated.
"Our emergency rooms that have been just overwhelmed with the number of kids that are sick right now," said Seth Kaplan with the Texas Pediatric Society.
Rapid growth is still seen in the 0-17 age group with large increases in pediatric admissions in Dallas and Collin counties.
And in Tarrant County, pediatric hospitals hit another pandemic high this week.
"We're seeing the same exact things in our in our offices," Dr. Kaplan said. "Our offices are the busiest they've been in over a decade with sick children."
The report states only the pediatric age group is still experiencing robust growth in new admissions.
"We are starting to see decreased rates of hospitalization and decreased rates of positivity among adults," Dr. Kaplan said. "So we hope that this wave may be about to peak and come down a little bit."
Dr. Kaplan says getting the COVID vaccine approved for kids under the age of 12 will be a real game-changer. That could happen by the end of this year.
He says for now we can really do our best to keep infections down by continuing to practice all those safety practices like masking and distancing.