In the past week, our fourth in school, PA experienced a rise in “active community cases.” Half of newly reported cases were among members of the same families. All persons with “active community cases” through our first three weeks have fully recovered and are back in school (with antibodies). Symptoms continue to range from mild to moderate, with a couple experiencing symptoms similar to a bad flu. Interestingly, no PA family experiencing COVID this fall has expressed alarm over the experience.
Things I wrote earlier in this space bear repeating. From August 2: “Let’s remember that some seasonal ‘bugs’ start hitting the school community in the fall, usually around late September and early October.” And from September 7 : “The relative frequency of severe symptoms seems to us a more compelling data consideration than mere numbers of [COVID] cases. Providence has 20 years of experience with illnesses whose case numbers can tend to rise in autumn. It would be unsurprising if PA experiences this with COVID (as is being seen outside our walls), and ‘normal sicknesses’ such as the common cold, strep, and RSV. As I say, it is the degree and frequency of COVID severity that we will be especially attuned to.”
Seasonal bugs are happening here, and they share common symptoms with COVID; that’s why we ask that sick kids be kept home. As of today, there is no reason to think there is a new problem with degree or frequency of COVID severity at PA (or among Minnesota children more generally). The updated graphs of MDH data reprinted below show this. While testing and case numbers rise in a correlated way–and upward trends such as we see now in Minnesota represent “a wave” whose peak is hard to predict–hospitalizations among school-age children do not correlate with new case numbers. There is no rise in hospitalizations among school-aged children, which have remained consistent and consistently low throughout the peaks and valleys of the pandemic (thus far). As I have said, we’ll keep carefully attuned to local and statewide data on illness severity.
Several of our community cases, as mentioned, had their origin from within households. As for the origin of other cases: while evidence of instances of in-school transmission is difficult to pin down, and our currently-reported cases are not concentrated in a given area of the school, we cannot rule out the possibility that by now there have been instances. Voluntary quarantining and optional KN95 masking remain available for families seeking further mitigation from potential exposure.