Published: 16:59, 05 September 2021
| Updated: 16:42, 06 September 2021
With pupils back in class from Monday, coronavirus cases among youngsters in the county are 40 times higher than this time last year.
KentOnline analysis of infection rates among those aged under 19 shows 1,232 positive tests were recorded in the seven days up to August 31.
The total in early September 2020 was just 30.
It comes as schools across the country adapt to new Covid restrictions set out by the government.
Pupils who test positive must isolate at home for 10 days and their close contacts will be asked to take PCR tests.
But the close contacts will now only have to self-isolate if they also test positive.
The hope is that this will avoid whole classes being sent home.
Meanwhile, all secondary pupils are being asked to take two lateral-flow tests at school - three to five days apart.
During the autumn term of 2020, the rapid spread of cases in the county - in part driven by the Kent variant - resulted in some schools having to shut to all pupils.
While just 30 youngsters had tested positive at the start of September, by the Christmas break this figure had rocketed to 2,154.
This resulted in family Christmas get-togethers being cancelled, followed by a third national lockdown in January, with pupils having to work from home - except children of key workers.
The difference this year is the hugely successful roll-out of the vaccine, with 79.8% of adults now having had two doses of the jab.
Also, while infection rates are higher than this time last year - they are rising more slowly.
The rate in Kent at the start of August 2021 was 210 positive tests per 100,000 people. It rose to a peak of 285.9 on August 23 but had fallen again to 245.4 by the end of the month.
It comes as the government is preparing to make a decision on whether to offer the vaccine to all healthy 12 to 15-year-olds, despite advisers deciding against recommending a mass roll-out.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) decided against backing the move on health grounds alone because Covid-19 presents such a low risk to younger teenagers.
But Professor Chris Whitty and the three other chief medical officers in the UK are reviewing the wider benefits of vaccinating the age group, such as minimising school absences, and are expected to present their findings within days.
A poll of KentOnline readers found the majority of people voting were in favour of children having the jab (57%). Some 28% were against it and 15% were unsure.
Of the youngsters in Kent who tested positive for Covid in the week up to August 31, 562 were aged 15-19, 372 were aged 10-14, 219 were aged five to nine and 77 were below the age of four.