Advisory: As a new school year kicks off, UBMD physicians to advise families on how to stay safe as the COVID-19 pandemic continues

Photo promoting webinar with headshots of the presenters.

Published August 30, 2021

On Aug. 31, UBMD physicians will hold a webinar for the public addressing COVID-19, its impact on the upcoming school year and will recommend practices to adopt for a safe return to school.


As COVID-19 numbers rise across the country and Western New York, members of UBMD Physicians’ Group are concerned about a potential spike in local COVID-19 cases as the new school year begins. In particular, UBMD physicians are concerned about two vulnerable populations: children under 12 who are unable to get vaccinated, and pregnant persons with school-aged children.

“For those heading back to school, we know this is a tumultuous time,” said Kevin Gibbons, MD, executive director of UBMD Physicians’ Group and senior associate dean for clinical affairs in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo. “Many parents are worried about how their children may be affected by the circulating delta variant, how it will affect schools, and the impact it may have on their child’s physical and mental health.”

To address these concerns and others, UBMD Physicians’ Group will present “Back-to-School, but not Back-to-Normal: Navigating the return to school” on August 31 at 7 p.m. through WebEx. All are welcome and invited to attend.

The free webinar will feature presentations from four UBMD physicians, with Gibbons serving as moderator.

  • COVID-19 school safety for children & those with special care needs
    Dennis Kuo, MD, MPH
    Division Chief, General Pediatrics, UBMD Pediatrics
    Interim Division Chief, Developmental Pediatrics & Rehabilitation, UBMD Pediatrics
    Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Jacobs School, UB
  • Sleep's impact on the immune system and vaccine efficacy
    Alberto Monegro, MD
    Sleep Medicine, UBMD Pediatrics & UBMD Internal Medicine
    Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Jacobs School, UB
  • Back-to-school time: what pregnant moms need to know
    Sarah Berga, MD
    President, UBMD Obstetrics & Gynecology
    Department Chair, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Jacobs School, UB
    Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Specialist
  • Managing anxieties about the return-to-school
    Michael Adragna, MD
    Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, UBMD Psychiatry
    Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Jacobs School, UB
  • Q&A

According to the panelists, addressing these topics before school is essential to help Western New York avoid the spikes being seen elsewhere in the country.

“Continuing masking and getting all those eligible vaccinated will help keep our numbers down and prevent severe illness or hospitalization,” said Gibbons. “The last thing we want to see is our pediatric ICUs at capacity like other states are seeing now. The children in WNY have been mostly protected from COVID-19 so far, and we want to keep it that way with the new variant while also ensuring they can continue in-person education and the mental and physical health benefits that come with it.”

Vaccinating all family members, not just those 12 and up going to school, plays an important role in keeping another vulnerable population safe: those who are pregnant.

“With children going back to school, we may be at the precipice of a ‘perfect storm’ for increased infections as children, even very young children, are now primary vectors for the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19,” said Sarah Berga, MD, president of UBMD Obstetrics & Gynecology and chair of the department at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo. “Pregnant women are often mothers of small children, so we face the worrying prospect of having pregnant moms at an increased risk of getting COVID-19.”

Registration for this free event is required: