Top UAMS doctor: Schools in areas with high COVID transmission should consider delaying in-person classes

Regional News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Days before many schools reopen, one of the state’s top doctors announced that schools in areas where there is high transmission should consider delaying in-person instruction.

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Chancellor Doctor Cameron Patterson said Thursday that the situation is too critical to send students back to school where there’s high community transmission of COVID-19.

“I would hope that schools in those high transmission areas would consider deferring or delaying reopening schools to in person until the situation has calmed down,” Dr. Patterson said.

Dr. Patterson said he is a parent himself and can relate to the challenges of online learning and how it can affect children but he said the number of cases involving children are mounting and the risk for infection could increase in a classroom.

“It’s going to be completely different this school year,” said Dr. Patterson.

The chancellor said children are more susceptible to the Delta variant.

On Tuesday, Dr. Patterson said in a series of tweets that if schools reopen, safeguards should be in place.

“Given the rampant spread of the debilitating Delta Variant of COVID-19 in our state, no school system in Arkansas should be open for class without universal masking, social distancing, and maximal vaccination of all teachers, staff, & eligible children,” Dr. Patterson said.

Dr. Patterson said a quarter to a third of people infected with the virus are suffering from long-term consequences.

“If you’re talking about a kid, that is a life time sentence, potentially. Kidney problems, brain problems, heart problems,” he said.

Dr. Patterson noted how quickly cases spread in Marion, Arkansas where 59 students tested positive within a five day period.

“In Marion county within a week 900 students in quarantine, if that happens in multiple spots in our state we will go from a few thousand new cases a day to double or triple that,” Dr. Patterson said.

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