FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – As Fort Worth parents prepare to send their kids back to school, Tarrant County Public Health’s director took time Wednesday, August 4 to answer questions regarding the COVID-19 surge and what they can do to keep their kids safe.

During a virtual live panel discussions the “Fort Worth Moms” Facebook — Tarrant County Public Health Director Vinny Taneja gave them advice.

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“We’re heading into a school season with COVID on the forefront and RSV raging in the community, what should we do?” he said. “I’m going to sound like a broken record,” said Taneja. “Wear your mask folks. It’s as simple as that.”

He points out under Governor Greg Abbott’s orders, public schools can’t require masks, but they can be strongly encouraged.

“And I know it’s very hard for younger kids to follow that, but if you work with your 4 year old, 5 year old, 6 year old, elementary kids and tell them how to wear the mask correctly and not get under peer pressure. ‘Well so-and-so is not wearing it – so why should I wear it?’ Wear it,” he said.

For those 12 and older, he spoke about the importance of getting the vaccine. He says in Tarrant County in 12 -15 year olds only 27% to 28% are vaccinated.

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“Of course parents will decide, so for adults, if you’re on the fence about the vaccine let me reassure you almost 170,000,000 Americans have taken it,” he said. “The vaccine is safe.”

Heading into the new school year he stresses parents should ask about their school’s COVID-19 safety reopening plan.

“Be very, very armed with facts and that’s when you can go and talk to school boards about what you think is happening appropriately and what’s not – give them the facts, give them the education that you found,” he said.

He also recommends parents talk to their pediatrician about the steps their family should take if there’s exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

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“The risk is going to be there. What we can do is mitigate that risk,” Taneja said.

Erin Jones