CAMDEN, New Jersey (WPVI) -- As millions of students head back to school, health officials say the United States is facing its most concerning surge yet.
Hundreds of thousands of American children are now testing positive for COVID-19 every week, according to a newly released weekly report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association.
This, as schools are reopening across the region.
In Camden, New Jersey, after 18 months of virtual learning, kids were finally back in the classrooms.
"There is no substitute for a teacher being in front of students in the classroom," said Camden City School Superintendent Katrina McCombs.
But students and staff will be wearing masks as mandated for other schools across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.
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Health officials report that nearly 252,000 American children tested positive for COVID-19 last week, marking the single highest week on record for pediatric infections.
The Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association note that at this time, severe illness due to COVID-19 remains uncommon among children.
Mask mandates have not been without controversy. In Pennsylvania, some lawmakers and parents plan to sue the Wolf administration, alleging that the acting health secretary, Alison Beam, does not have the authority to mandate masks in schools.
Some GOP leaders have argued this is the governor's way of getting around newly approved constitutional amendments limiting his emergency powers.
"One of the things that we're concerned about is the misuse of current law," said Jason Gottesman, the spokesman for the Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus.
In response to the suit, a governor's spokesperson said, "The SOH's authority is clearly outlined in existing law. We need Republicans to stop spending time undermining public health and instead encourage people to get vaccinated."
Meanwhile, the cleaning industry notes while the virus is primarily airborne, you can get infected by touching a contaminated surface like a shared desk, handrails, door handles, or water fountains.
"Those high touchpoints, making sure that we have a routine hygienic cleaning program and disinfection program is really important," said Patty Olinger of the Global Biorisk Advisory Council. "Making sure that kids understand good hygiene and washing their hands and also having hand sanitizer available."
Pennsylvania House lawmakers are scheduled back to Harrisburg earlier than planned on September 20 to tackle the matter.
A court hearing on the lawsuit is set for Wednesday.