As COVID-19 cases surge, nervous Wake County parents prepare for school year

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Before the CDC did an about-face on its mask guidance, recommending face coverings for all teachers, students, staff and visitors inside schools, parents were already expressing their nerves about the upcoming school year.

"I'm nervous to say the least," said Emma Ellerbee, a Wake County mother with children in the Wake County Public School System. "I'm nervous."

Ellerbee and her husband are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but their twin 10-year old daughters are ineligible for a shot; that's why she takes all the cautions to keep her family safe.

"Whenever they come home I've had to sanitize whatever they have at school," she said. "And also I have the discussion with them about personal space, keeping their hands clean and cough in their arm."

Kim Campbell has two young children in Duke School in Durham where staff took COVID-19 cautions that allowed students to stay in the classroom all year last year.

"It's really hard to learn online as a preschooler, a kindergartener, first grader," said Campbell. "And the social development is really important."

While looking forward to her kids' return to learning, Campbell is cautious and concerned about recent COVID trends.

"We're excited, we're nervous about the Delta variant," she said.

With vaccines still unavailable to children younger than 12 in the U.S., public health officials continue to encourage face coverings and other safety measures as necessary to prevent the spread of the virus.

In North Carolina, 1,334 children younger than 14 tested positive for COVID-19 the week of July 18, a 48% increase from the week prior when 711 positive cases were reported.

With cases surging, Campbell said the presence of strict COVID precautions is the only reason she feels comfortable sending her children back into the classroom.

"If everybody has to wear a mask, then everybody's in it together, it's easier to enforce," she said. "Just for the teachers- if everybody's doing it, then it's not a question of who's vaccinated and who's not."
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