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EARLY YEARS: Carilion pediatrician offers guidelines for student athletes and families to stay healthy during pandemic

School athletics have been put on the back burner in our hometowns, due to COVID-19.
Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 6:26 AM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - ”We’ve certainly seen the toll of probably some increase in obesity. The mental health impacts are definitely there. There’s the isolation that the kids are having,” says Carilion Clinic pediatrician Dr. Christopher Pierce.

Isolation, and a general disruption of normal life, have been typical for kids and adults over the past 10 months.

“We’re definitely seeing, as we’ve gone through the screening of the teenagers and preteens that we’re seeing more depression, more anxiety,” he says.

Dr. Pierce says keeping to a schedule as best they can will help kids deal with the added emotional strain.

“The schedule, routine and finding some kind of physical activity,” says Dr. Pierce.

To that end, Roanoke County Public Schools recently announced the return of varsity sports, with play limited to other county schools.

It goes against recommendations by the Virginia Department of Health, but there are ways to be cautious.

“I think the key if we move back to the sporting events is just really remember we are in the pandemic. The kids are going to be in close proximity. Really, if we can do masking as much as we can.”

He also suggests sports teams be vigilant about screening.

“Anybody that meets criteria that’s been exposed or has symptoms really stressing to the athletes and to the parents that these kids need to be out of that event until they get better,” says Dr. Pierce.

His other advice for families to stay healthy, eating a good diet and taking multi-vitamins.

As for maintaining good emotional health, plan fun family activities and have something to look forward to.

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