COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — As kids head back into the classroom, their risk of contracting COVID-19 —especially for young, unvaccinated children — will increase.

Per guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if a student is exposed to COVID-19, they will be notified to quarantine, to get tested for the virus, and then to isolate if they receive a positive diagnosis.

Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts says she knows quarantining is difficult for younger children, but there are ways to mitigate the spread while also being there for your child.

“Those who can, should be wearing a mask around that young person when they have to be with them, and you should limit the number of people who have to be with that person,” Roberts said. “So as best you can, that person should stay in their bedroom or their room as often as they can.”

She also said families should make sure to clean the bathroom after the sick person has used it. In addition, she said, when eating, people should separate, moving to different parts of the home or outside if possible.

“They just have to be creative and try to do their best to separate the individuals,” Roberts said.

With the highly contagious delta variant spreading across the U.S., children are filling hospital intensive care beds instead of classrooms in record numbers, more even than at the height of the pandemic. Many are too young to get the vaccine, which is available only to those 12 and over.

While pediatric COVID-19 hospitalization rates are lower than those for adults, they have surged in recent weeks, reaching 0.41 per 100,000 children ages 0 to 17, compared with 0.31 per 100,000, the previous high set in mid-January, according to an Aug. 13 CDC report.

The delta surge is yet another test for the nation’s schools, which are dealing with students who fell behind academically as a result of remote learning or developed mental health problems from the upheaval.

Outbreaks have already occurred at reopened schools in the South that are facing resistance to mask-wearing. The CDC advises that if children are sick or have COVID-19 symptoms, they should stay home from school or daycare and a health care provider should be called for testing.

“Staying home when sick with COVID-19 keeps COVID-19 infections out of schools and early care and education programs and prevents spread to others,” the CDC says.

Below are CDC guidelines for quarantine and isolation:

CDC quarantine guidelines:

  • Stay home for 14 days after the last contact with anyone with COVID-19.
  • Watch for fever (100.4◦F), cough, shortness of breath, or other COVID-19 symptoms.
  • If possible, stay away from people you live with, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick.

CDC isolation guidelines:

  • Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.
  • Stay in a separate room from other household members, if possible.
  • Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
  • Avoid contact with other members of the household and pets.
  • Don’t share personal household items, like cups, towels, and utensils.
  • Wear a mask when around other people if able.