Since November, 14-year-old Parkland High School freshman Julian Ettinger has been in a tight quarantine bubble, with music lessons and online learning at home only.
"I definitely want to get back to hanging out with my friends in person, but at the end of the day, I mean it's a serious virus going around and we can see what it is doing to people," he said.
Health experts say a COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. is targeting teens like Ettinger and younger.
"It's at least 50% more infectious. There's lot more viral particles that are in the front of the nose and that can be transmitted," said infectious disease expert Dr. Jeffrey Jahre of St. Luke's University Health Network.
Jahre says there's an increase in kids being hospitalized. He also says a new New York City variant could pose problems too. This could curtail getting back to class as many area schools are expanding hybrid learning.
"My kids are more learning hands-on being with their classmates," said Missy Kane.
For Kane, the mom of two Parkland School District students, having her boys in class is crucial.
She says they've gone from A-B to C-D students while learning at home.
"I feel the benefits at this point outweigh the risks," she said.
Jahre says in-person class can resume despite the variant as long as safety protocols are followed. He says social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing still needs to happen.
Parkland says it's consulting health professionals and monitoring case counts, and if they need to make changes they will.
Jahre adds a Pfizer vaccine for 12–15-year olds could arrive by summer, allowing those like Ettinger to "meet up with some friends and hang out," he said.
Jahre also said a vaccine for those under 12 could also come by fall.