By Nicole Nielsen

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – With just about a month to go until many schools begin for the fall, it’s time to think about keeping your student safe.

Local health experts say the best way to do this is to ensure they’re vaccinated if 12 and older.

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“Everyone who is eligible to receive the vaccine should absolutely get it as quickly as possible,” said Director of Dallas Health and Human Services Dr. Philip Huang.

Huang says getting your first dose within the next few days will almost ensure your student is fully vaccinated before school starts.

He says that’s especially important as cases of the Delta variant continue to rise, along with hospitalizations.

“Lately we’ve seen a little uptick again so it’s very concerning,” Huang said.

But with no vaccine approved for those 11 and under, it’s the students who will go back to school unvaccinated that he says need to wear their masks now more than ever.

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“Any persons that are unvaccinated including those that you know just aren’t able to because it’s not approved… That’s where there’s still this vulnerability,” he said.

The updated guidance from the CDC says schools should maintain at least 3 feet of physical distancing in classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing by those unvaccinated ages 2 and older.

Rena Honea, president of Alliance AFT representing Dallas ISD staff, says it’ll be up to the students to make sure they’re keeping themselves and others safe since masks are optional.

“Many of the safety precautions that were successful in helping, not to spread the virus are going to be in place, but it’ll be up to individuals to be able to carry those out,” Honea said.

But local leaders understand the spread of COVID-19 and the Delta variant will have to be something schools around North Texas keep an eye on.

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“We just need to keep monitoring and being a little nimble and how we need to make sure we can respond to this in the best way,” Huang said.

Nicole Nielsen