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COVID-19 In Schools; Hidden Emergencies; Mental Healthcare; New Adults

Chris O'Meara, File
AP Photos
In this Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2021, file photo, students, some wearing protective masks, arrive for the first day of school at Sessums Elementary School in Riverview, Fla.

Our first episode of What’s Health Got To Do With It? is all about young people — from little kids entering in-person school for the first time amid the pandemic to young adults leaving home for the first time to start their own lives. 

According to Politico, Florida saw an overall 63 percent increase in new childhood COVID infections in August (when most schools started their fall semester), which is the most significant monthly increase in kids’ cases since March 2020, with a total of 17 pediatric deaths since the pandemic began. Six of those deaths occurred in August 2021.

How parents and schools are managing the risk of the virus depends on family dynamics, vaccination status, masking preference, and school policy  — among other things. 


  • Dr. Jeffrey Goldhagen, professor and chief of the Division of Community and Societal Pediatrics at the University of Florida College of Medicine—Jacksonville, president of the International Society for Social Pediatrics and Child Health, and former director of the Duval County Department of Health
  • Dr. Mobeen Rathore, professor and associate chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Florida, chair and the Infection Prevention and Control Committee of the Baptist Health System, and hospital epidemiologist and chief of pediatric infectious diseases and immunology at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville 

Hidden Emergencies

School nurses remain on the frontline of student safety, now more than ever. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend schools have one full-time nurse for every 750 students, but many schools in the First Coast fall short of this requirement.

Guest: State Director of the Georgia Association of School Nurses Lisa Morrison told us about “hidden emergencies” school nurses face 

Mental Healthcare

With the return to in-person schooling after more than a year of isolation, some students are still facing mental health challenges. 

In a national Gallup poll conducted in 2020, nearly 29 percent of respondents said their child is “already experiencing harm” to their emotional or mental health because of social distancing and closures. Another 14 percent said their children were approaching their limits. Some children report mental health struggles persisting beyond quarantine as they re-enter school.


Young Adults Living on Their Own for the First Time

For many parents, sending their children off to live away from home for the first time can be an emotionally charged time. When there are health concerns, the stress is often magnified.


  • First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross host Melissa Ross and her daughter Natalie Dixon, who is taking a gap year before heading to the College of Charleston, spoke with us about how new adults navigate taking over responsibility for their own healthcare.

What’s Health Got to Do with It? Associate Producer Katherine Hobbs can be reached at or on Twitter at @KatherineGHobbs.