SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Its been a little more than a week since students began filling the classrooms and hallways at Mary W. Jackson Elementary School.

“COVID yeah, it’s a little bit scary,” says Principal Tracy Sjostrom.

Mary W Jackson Elementary School

Principal Sjostrom says the COVID protocol room at her school sits empty during the day because masking up isn’t an issue.

“Everyone is wearing a mask, they want to be safe, they are happy to be here, they want to stay here, and they know that they need to socially distance and wear masks to be able to stay here given the climate right now,” she says.

Since August 23, The Utah Department of Health tells ABC4 there were 3,175 cases of COVID among students. Of that number, 39.2 percent or 1,246 COVID cases were in kids ages 5-10.

COVID Cases among school age children per UDOH

“I’m very worried,” says Dr. Andrew Pavia with U of U Health and Primary Children’s Hospital. “The delta variant is hitting school-age children much harder than previous versions of the virus were.”

Dr. Pavia says at any time there are a pair of children in a full ICU with COVID, and another 1-2 kids with multisystem inflammatory syndrome or MISC.

Dr. Pavia says Primary Children’s Hospital has cared for more than 100 children with MISC.

He says to keep children alive, doctors are moving them around like adults were last year with the Alpha variant.

“Now we have the same pressure on pediatric beds that we did on adult beds last winter,” he says. “So we are seeing things move in a bad direction.”

Hoping to change the trajectory during the SLC Classroom Chronicles, Principal Sjostrom says her staff will continue to encourage mask use and provide them to families who need them.

“And I know they feel better when we’re wearing masks. Everyone does. Teachers do, kids do, parents do, so we will continue doing what we need to do to be at school learning,” says Sjostrom.

To protect children, with Labor Day Weekend around the corner, Dr. Pavia says wearing a mask is still the best option.

The second best option is for everyone older than 12 who can get a vaccine to get one.

“I’m afraid that if we don’t use our tools optimally and if we don’t start taking this very seriously, it’s going to get ahead of us,” Dr. Pavia adds.