Page gives update on COVID in schools, massive surge in positivity rate reported

Affton+School+District+students+Jayson+and+Connor+try+out+the+paper+crimpers+in+the+Gotsch+Art+Studio+in+February+2021.+

Affton School District students Jayson and Connor try out the paper crimpers in the Gotsch Art Studio in February 2021.

By Lucas Irizarry, Staff Reporter

Since the start of the school year in mid-August, COVID-19 cases in children in St. Louis County have skyrocketed. 

Citing a preliminary report, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page discussed the number of COVID-19 cases reported from the first week of school during a press conference Wednesday. 

As of Sept. 1, the positivity rate among 10 to 14 year-olds was 16.2 percent — 6 percent higher than the community average of 10 percent. Page said this number rose by 44 percent in the last two weeks of August.

Sixteen of the 23 county school districts reported COVID data to the county. In total there have been 323 student cases and 51 staff cases, resulting in the quarantine of 1,214 individuals. Page said these numbers are artificially low since they only cover about a week of the semester so far.

“While it’s true that most children who contract COVID won’t get seriously ill, some do. Even if they don’t get sick, students will often spread the virus within classrooms and households,” Page said.

He said the Delta variant is especially good at targeting children and transmitting through them. 

Page recommended anyone 12 and older get vaccinated and anyone at school wear a mask regardless of a district’s specific masking policy. He said public health experts recommend testing at any exposure and to quarantine when displaying any kind of symptom instead of attending school. For a list of testing and vaccine locations, visit reviveSTL.com.

“Do not assume symptoms like fever, cough, runny nose or headaches are the result of allergies,” Page said.

The county health department will release a report starting Sept. 8 and every two weeks moving forward outlining youth and school COVID data.

“We all have the same goal — to keep our kids in school. That’s where they learn best,” Page said.