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Is it safe to travel for spring break? We asked the experts

Airports around the U.S. are seeing an increase in travelers, the biggest increase since the beginning of the pandemic

ST. LOUIS — It's peak spring break season in the U.S. and people are taking to the skies again. 

"You know, the kids are out of school. Lots of families are traveling to either ski or to either warm destinations," Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, Director of St. Louis Lambert International Airport, said.

It's not just St. Louisans, air travel is up across the U.S. Popular beaches in Texas are seeing crowds again, many mask-less, and tickets for Disneyworld are sold out this week.

Hamm-Niebruegge said most travel out of St. Louis is for leisure and most people are heading to warmer weather or ski destinations. 

But is it safe to travel outside of your St. Louis bubble? 5 On Your Side posed the question to two of St. Louis' best infectious disease specialists.

"You know, I think I would still say honestly, that if you don't have to travel, please don't travel," Dr. Farrin Manian with Mercy said. "I think we have to kind of remind ourselves that this how COVID has spread throughout the world."

There are ways to travel safely. Wearing masks and social distancing reduce the risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19. Both Dr. Manian and Dr. Jason Newland with Washington University's School of Medicine agree that there are still risks with traveling. 

"Air travel is felt to be safe," explained Dr. Newland,  "As you increase the number of people and are depending on more people to wear masks, it increases the risk."

The conclusion? There will be a risk with any travel, especially if social distancing and mask-wearing aren't evident.

The worry for after spring break becomes: Will schools need to heighten restrictions for students returning from vacation? Dr. Newland said no. 

"I think we've learned that schools have operated at some of the most high-peak incidences or high-peak number of cases in our community without difficulties. We are seeing very low transmission because the schools in our region have done so many things to make the schools safe."

5 On Your Side reached out to multiple school districts, most have not issued guidelines for spring break travel.

The Rockwood School District sent a message to parents asking that they get a COVID-19 test and quarantine for seven days if they have traveled outside of the US.

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