Despite UK variant outbreaks in children, local doctor says in-person learning is safe with COVID precautions

As schools reopen for in-person learning and reports of the UK variant now attacking the younger population, health experts say it's more important than ever to do our part in fighting COVID-19.

"Have separated lunches, cord off recesses, all of the good practices to keep kids safe need to stay in place," said Dr. Nathan Schlicher, President of the WA State Medical Association.

Dr. Schlicher said with COVID-related precautions in place, it will be safe to return to in-person learning.

"It's not at a point yet where we need to pull back on the important work, keeping kids educated and working on all those developmental, mental health, socialization issues that are critical, that schools provide," said Dr. Schlicher.

RELATED: King County official: COVID-19 case surge could lead to rollback

According to the University of Washington, the UK variant is 30 to 50 percent more contagious than the coronavirus variant. Dr. Schlicher said it may be spreading among children because the older population has been getting vaccinated. 

Jeremy Hill's daughter is back to in-person learning and he said he's not fearful of the variant.

"We definitely want to take all precautions. If our health experts are telling us it's okay to go back, then we'll go back. If they're telling us we shouldn't, we probably won't," said Hill.

As for teachers, the Seattle teachers union made sure educators felt safe before returning for the last nine weeks of school.

RELATED: Washington changes social distancing minimum requirement in schools to 3 feet apart

"During the bargaining process, we were very clear on 6-foot distancing, very clear on making health and safety available to students and families first," said Uti Hawkins, VP of Seattle Education Association.

Dr. Schlicher said data shows the vaccine is successful against variants and urges everyone to get vaccinated.

"By the end of May hopefully everyone who wants to get the vaccine can get one. That gives us five-ish weeks to get to the 4th of July and hopefully, we can have a great Independence Day and celebrate the summer together," said Schlicher.

Stay connected with Q13 News on all platforms:

DOWNLOAD: Q13 News and Weather Apps
WATCH: Q13 News Live
FOLLOW: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram