SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – As students in ShreveportBossier return to school next month, some are concerned about the timing of the sixth COVID surge and feel it couldn’t come at a worse moment.

COVID in NWLA has remained in the orange or at a high COVID alert level. Now, officials warn residents of the highly transmissible B-A five variant, which accounts for nearly 30% of cases in Louisiana and 60% nationwide.

Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, MD (R), says the newer variant presents milder symptoms than previous variants.

“The symptoms that people are having now are much milder. There’s not as many deaths, not as many hospitalizations,” Cassidy said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House Chief Medical Advisor, says that although symptoms have lessened, parents should still be aware of the potential for infection as students return to school.

“As a group, children do not get as seriously afflicted by this as adults, particularly elderly adults. But by no means are children exempt from getting infected and spreading the infection particularly in the household but also from getting severe disease.”

Shreveport-Bossier school officials say they are still in discussion with the health department for guidance on the upcoming school year. They have also said masking will remain optional for students and faculty.

“Any child’s life lost from COVID is a tragedy. And you can prevent that by vaccinating your child,” Fauci said.

There are about 4,000 new COVID cases around the state which does not include at-home test results.