Students return to the classroom in Kzoo

As schools reopen, health officials worry about a predicted rise in COVID outbreaks.

Thousands of students are returning to classrooms throughout Kalamazoo County – some for the first time in over a year.

Most students in Kalamazoo Public Schools haven’t been to in-person classes since schools closed in March of 2020. Others, such as Portage Public Schools, are simply coming back after a normal summer break.

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The start of the school year is especially worrisome for public health officials. COVID-19 rates could surge again as unvaccinated students crowd into enclosed spaces.

In Kalamazoo County, all schools have to require students and staff to wear masks in buildings serving kindergarten through sixth graders – groups that can’t yet be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Regardless, many people are watching to see what happens to infection rates within the next couple of weeks. If last fall’s experience offers any indication, infections will rise slowly over the next month before surging in October.

Last year’s surge happened even with students wearing masks in most schools. However, COVID-19 vaccines weren’t yet available this time last year. That could protect us from the full force of a fourth wave of the pandemic.

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