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3 things to know for your kid's health as they go back to school

'We have a lot of virus here and we have probably a lot of virus that we're not detecting,' Dr. Teng said.

TAMPA, Fla. — As kids head back to school across Tampa Bay doctors are addressing the top concerns surrounding student health. 

Most local schools are making masks optional but Dr. Michael Teng, a virologist at USF Health says they’re the best form of protection for both vaccinated and unvaccinated kids right now. 

Here are three things to know as kids head back to class:

  1. If your child is masked but other kids in their class are not, how protected from COVID-19 are they?

“First off, a mask worn is better than a mask that's not. Make sure that your child will wear the mask, it's comfortable, that it's properly fit. I would say remind them that if somebody is unmasked, the farther you are from them, the less likely you are to get infected. If you're outdoors that's even better."

  1. If you’re 12 or older and you’ve been vaccinated, can you opt-out of wearing a mask in school or should you continue to wear them in class?

"This is a hard call because I do think the vaccines are extremely effective, but I think what we're seeing is, we're seeing some breakthrough cases with delta. To be completely safe, and I'm one of those worriers, if I had a child who was 12 and up who was vaccinated, I would still send them into school with a mask. We have a lot of virus here and we have probably a lot of virus that we're not detecting. For the next month, it's really important to just wear the mask whether you've been vaccinated or not."

  1. When would you say is a good time to get your child tested for covid?

"Your fever response is a really good indication that you have a viral infection. The other fact of the matter is there are other viruses out there that are circulating you really want to know that, too. There are tests that will distinguish between SARS-CoV-2, RSV, some of the other childhood diseases, so it's really useful to get testing done when you do see signs of a viral infection."

RELATED: Mask rules, bell schedules and more: Your Tampa Bay back-to-school guide

RELATED: Back-to-school safety checklist for parents concerned about COVID-19 and the delta variant

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