Over the last three weeks, coronavirus cases declined across all pediatric age groups by about 40%.

The return of in-person instruction this fall has not been without challenges, but cases have declined since the summer spike.

The current case rate for 12 to 17-year-olds is 132 new cases per 100,000 teens, for five to 11-year-olds the case rate is now 141 new cases per 100,000 children, and for children zero to four, the case rate is 88 new cases per 100,000.

Maria Martinez-Poulin, Deputy Superintendent, Los Angeles County Office of Education applauded educators for attacking this challenge with open minds and a passion to help all students safely return to the classroom.

“A growth mindset embraces challenges, and the process of getting better,” She said. “We know that educators across Los Angeles County are meeting this moment with grit, perseverance, and a commitment to continuous improvement.”

Since in-person learning returned in LA County, almost 8,000 student cases and just about 1,200 staff have tested positive. Over the last three weeks, cases declined across all age groups by about 40% according to the Director Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Barbara Ferrer.

The county is crediting the COVID-19 safety procedures schools have in place. Daily symptom checks, regular testing for COVID-19, staggered schedules to limit gatherings and opportunities for exposures, quarantine and isolation to prevent the spread of COVID and required masks are examples of the procedures taking place. LA County schools are also requiring masks indoors and are strongly recommending them outdoors when social distancing isn’t possible.

At lunch, there are staggered schedules and schools are implementing social distancing as much as possible. School districts will have federal funding from the CDC to continue and implement and expand their testing programs.

“With most of the 1.5 million children in grades K to 12 now having returned to in-person instruction, we are encouraged that the case rates did not increase,” Ferrer said.

While the county’s pediatric hospitalization rates remain higher now than they were in the spring and early summer, they are starting to decline. Ferrer said hospitalizations never approached the high rates seen during the winter surge.

“If our case rates don’t increase we do anticipate a stabilization, or even small declines among pediatric hospitalizations,” Ferrer said. “We’ve had no additional pediatric deaths, our prayers do remain with the families and friends of the seven children [In LA County], who did lose their lives to COVID.”

As of September 12, 63% of LA County teens 12 to 15 years old, had received at least one dose of vaccine and 53% are fully vaccinated, among teens 16 to 17 years old 70% received at least one dose and 61% in this age group are fully vaccinated.

Most outbreaks are now taking place in elementary schools and not in youth sports. An outbreak is when three or more cases are noted.

“The number of outbreaks happening in schools really is unusually low,” Ferrer said.

daniel@smdp.com