READING, Pa. — Among the many illnesses doctors are seeing in children following the holiday break, COVID-19 cases are way up there.

"In pediatrics world, we expect a surge, early January, but this, the volume of calls we're getting, clearly this is nothing typical," said Dr. Bunmi Ojikutu, the chair of pediatrics at Reading Hospital. "We are seeing an increase in cases in all age groups. A lot of children are calling or coming in symptomatic."

Some school districts in Berks County are trying to stay ahead of the game when it comes to COVID safety.

The Reading School District will be virtual for the first week back after the break. Schools were open Monday morning for parents to pick up supplies for their children.

The Exeter Township School Board voted Sunday night to temporarily reinstate mask requirements for students, staff, and visitors until Jan. 19.

"That simple barrier of the appropriate mask, kept on appropriately in school when you're indoors, in close contact especially, and when transmission rate is high in a community, like how we are, that is, I would, say a no brainer," Ojikutu said.

She said some area school districts have invested in COVID testing and will be rolling that out in the near future; other districts are still looking at the possibility.

Ojikutu said she continues to encourage those who are eligible to get vaccinated. In the meantime, she said, each school district will have to make the best decision for its students, staff, and faculty.

"You want to balance keeping your staff safe, keeping the students themselves safe, and being able to have some meaningful education going on," said Ojikutu.

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