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Infection rates are rising, yet the start of the new US school year gives me hope | Emma Brockes

Looking to the new term as a life-changing boundary feels reassuring

There is still a month on the clock until state schools go back in New York, but for plenty of kids in other states in the US – Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee among them – the autumn term started last week. Many school districts in those states have put mask mandates in place, as has New York: in September, when 1 million-plus children in the city go back to school, they will all be required to wear masks. Meanwhile, remote-schooling options in the city have been cancelled for all but immunocompromised children, and the head of the country’s second-biggest teaching union is pushing for mandatory vaccination for teachers. Changes in infection rates notwithstanding, the start of the new school year looks as if it might be as normal as we can hope it to be.

The strange thing about this anticipation is that it falls at a time when many of us are, once again, curtailing our movements because of Covid. For the first time in months, there are two new Covid cases in my apartment building; infection rates in the city and across the US as a whole are up. After what seemed like a spell of premature optimism at the start of summer, everyone has returned to full-on mask-wearing in stores, and often in the street. And whereas prior to vaccination it was easy to tell oneself that children were less at risk than adults, now it’s one’s unvaccinated kids who seem most starkly unprotected. The risks are still very low – according to the American Academy of Paediatrics, only between 0.1% and 1.9% of all Covid cases in children in the US result in hospitalisation. Still, it changes things knowing that, as a vaccinated adult, if you decide to travel or go to an indoor party it’s your kids who may suffer the consequences.

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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