By Maria Medina

CASTRO VALLEY (KPIX) — As tens of thousands of Bay Area students return to the classroom, many parents are finding themselves concerned over the highly-transmissible and more severe COVID-19 Delta variant.

Across the country, pediatric COVID infections and hospitalizations are on the rise. Last week, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control reported an average of 192 COVID pediatric hospitalizations every day, resulting in a 45.7% increase from the previous week for children zero to 17-years-old.

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“We are seeing more children who have been infected and who are getting hospitalized,” said Stanford Children’s Health Associate Chief Medical Officer and Prof. of Pediatrics Dr. Grace Lee. “Perhaps even more so than we have seen with prior surges.”

But Lee believes despite the Delta variant’s threat, there is a safe way to return to the classroom even as children under 12 wait for FDA authorization to receive the vaccine.

“Going back to the basics; so masks, distancing as appropriate, keeping things outdoors as much as possible,” Lee said. “I think what we saw before we had vaccines available is that we can successfully reopen schools.”

Castro Valley Unified School District Superintendent Parvin Ahmadi said they’re well-prepared and ready to return to the classroom on Tuesday.

“There are strict guidelines about quarantining, isolation and we have procedures for dismissal, drop off, volunteers, masking,” Ahmadi said.

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She said because of the recent spike in cases, the district is now requiring students to not only mask indoors, but outdoors as well during instruction or while in crowded areas.

COVID testing for students and staff will also continue to be provided. Ahmadi said a mobile test site will become available as well, which will rotate from site to site.

“It’s concerning for families as we go back to in-person fully after a year and a half of struggling through everything,” she said.

Briana Castro said while she’s concerned about the Delta variant she’s ready for her 6-year-old daughter to step into the classroom for the first time later this month.

She said after seeing how difficult it was for her daughter to learn online last school year, she made the decision to allow her to attend school in-person with Campbell Union School District.

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“She’s very excited, she honestly won’t stop talking about it,” said Castro. “She asks me everyday if she’s going to go to school tomorrow. All we could just do is just keep following protocols.”