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As Northeast Ohio's students return to the classroom, what could the state of the COVID-19 pandemic look like in the fall?

As kids return to school and cases continue to rise, doctors are preparing for what could be another peak in cases in October.

CLEVELAND — Labor Day signals the end of summer and the return of school for all students.

For many districts, that will be in-person this year.

As the school year begins, doctors say they're buckling up for how the remainder of the year unfolds.

“It’s just this slow, slow steady inching,” Dr. Amy Edwards, University Hospitals Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist, says. “We're kind of already seeing it and I expect to see more of the same.”

Elyria City Schools start classes Tuesday. Other Northeast Ohio districts kick off school on Wednesday.

Sandusky City Schools has announced that all staff at the high school and middle school will be required to wear masks. No masks will be required for students.

“The question is will the peak of this wave out pass our ability to deal with it in the hospitals?,” Edwards said.

Edwards told 3News last week that the biggest concern is a surge that could follow Labor Day weekend.

“We're busy, we're just busy,” Edwards said.

4-year-old Lincoln was hospitalized for three weeks, spending much of his time on oxygen.

"I just think that people need to know that this is possible,” Lincoln’s mother, Anna, said. “I remember the moments that he said ‘Mom, I just don't feel good I don't think I’m going to go home.’ That's the thing that nobody wants to hear their four-year-old say."

Local doctors told 3News they hope more children like Lincoln don't become a COVID-19 statistic.

“What I’m not looking forward to is how much damage this wave did,” Edwards said.

The latest numbers from the Cleveland Clinic report that 330 patients were hospitalized in Ohio; One third of them were reportedly in the ICU.

“This could all just turn out to be all sorts of bad if we're just not very, very careful,” Edwards said.

Edwards told 3News data predicts the worst of the fourth wave could come in October.

Pfizer has previously said it plans to submit data to the Federal Drug Administration for emergency use authorization for a COVID-19 for younger kids in September.

The FDA’s emergency use authorization approval could take weeks.

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