Local doctor warns parents to prepare for virtual learning as COVID cases continue to rise

INDIANAPOLIS – As more children prepare to return to class, some may return to online learning.

Dr John Christenson of Riley Children’s Hospital said COVID-19 could spread the worst it has ever seen in classrooms in the coming weeks.

“You’re going to have a lot of infections that spread like any big event,” Christenson said.

He said they are already seeing a lot of activity when it comes to children with COVID in the emergency room. Christenson said they recently saw about 50 children a day in the emergency room. The good news is that most do not need to be hospitalized.

“There is no doubt that we are two or three times higher than in December of last year,” he said.

Christenson said parents should be prepared for schools to switch to distance learning due to the spread.

“I think parents are probably dreading going back to virtual, but it’s going to happen for a lot of schools,” Christenson said.

The Pike Township Schools MSD started the new semester on Monday, but so far no students have returned to classrooms.

“Not happy is being as polite as possible,” said Dave Riley, parent of an eight-year-old at Pike TWP Schools.

Riley said he was frustrated with the short notice parents were given for what was supposed to be day one back.

“It puts us all in a bind when I get a call at a quarter to six in the morning that they are going virtual,” he said.

Riley said his job doesn’t allow him to take off on short notice, so he has to rely on his family to help him out when his student transfers to distance learning on short notice.

“It’s just an extreme test for me and my family,” he said.

Pike TWP learned remotely due to “additional and prolonged illnesses and required isolation,” according to the school system’s Twitter account.

We reached out to the Pike TWP Schools spokesperson on Tuesday and Wednesday for an interview, but had no response.

Riley said teachers do a good job with online learning, but his son learns best in person and that’s where he wants him to be. Unfortunately, he said he expects more virtual days in the future.

Dr Christenson said the best way for parents to prevent classes from going virtual and having their children vaccinated for COVID is to have their eligible children vaccinated.

“Control of this pandemic is in our hands, if we are vaccinated and protected, if we use masks, if we avoid gatherings, we can control the pandemic,” Christenson said.

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Norma A. Roth