RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Kimberly Smith is a mom to a kindergartner and first grader. She's excited about the upcoming school year, but Covid concerns still loom two years after the pandemic started. She reflected on the last school year and what could happen when classes resume for her two kids.
"Children still got sick," Smith said. "You don't know what they're doing on the outside and they bring it in."
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, 58 percent of new Covid cases in the state were identified as the new sub-variant BA.5.
Smith said it's the highly contagious strain that has heightened some of her fears. She laid out her plans to protect her children the best way she knows how.
"I plan on getting them vaccinated because I'm vaccinated," Smith said.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children represented 12 percent of reported Covid Cases over the last week. In North Carolina, 29 percent of children 6 months to 17 years old are vaccinated with at least one dose.
The new numbers come as more students head to the classroom. This week Wake County Schools will welcome one of its largest cohorts of year-round schools, just weeks away from the start of the Traditional School year for children across the Triangle.
It's enough for parents like Shenikwa Barefield to mask up again.
" I did relax a little bit. I am vaccinated, but it still doesn't mean anything. So, I stress the importance of wearing a mask," Barefield said.
Pediatricians are also recommending masks and vaccinations as students head back to school.
" We still want to give our kids the best chance possible," pediatrician and North Carolina Pediatric Society president Dr. Christoph Diasio said. " It is true if you get the vaccine you can still catch the disease but it still massively decreases your risk of hospitalization or other complications. It's so worth it to not bring COVID home, probably your best bet is masking."
Masks are recommended but not required in Wake County Schools. Durham Public School System is also recommending masks and will continue contact tracing at the classroom level.