TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Doctors say back-to-school season could be the culprit in an upward trend of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks because the risk increases when there are large gatherings of people.

“We’re seeing people who are coming down with normal symptoms, flu like symptoms, with a fever, having the cough,” Dr. Traci Thompson said.

Thompson is the founder of Dr. Traci’s House in Tampa, which is located in an area that shows the greatest socioeconomic and access needs.

“For those who are ready and due for a booster, I would encourage you to wait for the one that’s coming out soon in the middle of September,” Thompson said. “Pregnant mom’s should be the ones in terms of our highest priority to get vaccinated against for COVID with a booster.”

University of South Florida Student Health Services is reporting a subtle increase in COVID cases as students return to class this week, but it’s also a trend that’s expected any time there’s a large gathering of people.

This week, families at schools around the Tampa Bay area are also noticing more absences in the classroom.

“Starting at the beginning of the week, my grandson believes six children were missing on Monday,” Debbie Bross said. “By Wednesday, four were missing and I don’t have any answers to that.”

Thompson said those who are at high risk of getting sick should wear a high-quality mask.

“We have made it through,” Thompson said. “It was some very dark times in the past couple of years, but close to 70% of all people in the United States have at least received the first shot of the COVID vaccine, then we can make it through.”