Doctors discuss kid’s back-to-school health concerns including monkeypox, polio, COVID outbreaks

We are in a healthier place with COVID than the past two years, but there are more concerns.

As this school year starts, the country continues to see contagious illnesses spread.

So, what should you know as you send your children to school?


Doctors from Texas Children’s Hospital say they are concerned about monkeypox, although it would be rare for kids to catch it.

In Texas, there are more than 800 cases but only in two people under 18 years old.

“This is not COVID, let’s be clear. This is not an infection that’s going to be nearly as contagious in any way because it’s not an airborne virus,” said Pathologist-in-Chief Dr. James Versalovic. “We are dealing with a virus that requires very close, intimate contact.”


Polio was considered eliminated in the U.S. in 1994 but is now circulating in New York, as indicated by wastewater surveillance.

“It is a very deadly virus,” said Chief Medical Officer and Vice President at Texas Children’s Pediatrics Dr. Stan Spinner. “You don’t want to wait until your child may have it because there is no treatment for it.”

Children are typically vaccinated for polio at two, four, and six months then boosted at about four years old.

Those up-to-date on vaccines should be fine, Spinner added.

However, since COVID vaccines became available, the doctors say they’ve seen more vaccine hesitancy and refusal than ever before for all immunizations. This new outbreak puts those unvaccinated at risk of polio.

“Once it starts, we certainly worry about where it may head. So please, we don’t want to go through polio outbreaks again, oh my goodness!” Spinner said.


Right now there are 62 children across southeast Texas hospitalized with COVID.

The doctors agree we are in a healthier place to start the school year than we’ve been in years.

Normalcy is important, they say, but balance that with staying vigilant to keep the spread low.

They suggest testing your child at any sign of symptoms to have peace of mind with a negative result.


Mental health is at the top of everyone’s mind and it is probably affecting your child. Although, they might not be able to communicate that the same way an adult would.

Since it’s only been a couple of months since the attack in Uvalde happened, Dr. Katherine Gallagher says your children may know more than you think they do about school safety concerns and stress.

  • She advises parents to notice and manage their own feelings before addressing your children’s concerns, which should better prepare you to answer questions.
  • She says to ask open-ended questions to start conversation.

“You don’t want to make assumptions, like ‘Oh, you’re anxious about this, right?’ but you want to make sure to give them a place to share,” Gallagher said.

  • Listen when they’re sharing how they feel; Resist trying to “fix it.”

“You want to do something to make them feel better but sometimes it’s actually best to listen, say ‘Hey thanks for sharing that with me, it’s OK to feel that way, I feel like that sometimes too... We’re a team, we’re gonna get through this together,’” Gallagher said. “It models that it’s OK to have feelings and whatever comes up, you have faith in letting them handle it.”

On Thursday from 6-7 p.m., Texas Children’s Hospital behavioral health experts will answer your questions on coping with back-to-school anxiety.