Experts Advise Parents to Keep their Children At Home While They are Sick, Regardless of the Disease.
In a recently published article in Healthline, experts believe it’s more crucial than ever for parents to keep their children home if they’re sick, especially with COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) spreading in many communities.
To put it another way, just because the child tests negative for COVID-19 doesn’t mean they should be in a classroom with other kids.
An infectious disease expert and medical director of infection prevention and control at the University of Kansas Health System, Dr. Dana Hawkinson asserted that it has never been acceptable to send a sick child to school. Nevertheless, there are criteria for returning to school after illness or specific symptoms, such as fever.
This is still an issue, especially now that COVID-19 and RSV are circulating in such high quantities. Even if a COVID-19 test is negative (assuming it was an antigen test, a confirmatory PCR test is required), being sick has the potential to transfer disease to others, according to Hawkinson.
COVID-19 isn’t the only illness that spreads quickly in crowded places. In addition, schools can be a hotspot for various infectious diseases.
RSV, streptococcus pneumonia (strep throat), gastrointestinal (GI) diseases, and other common cough and cold viruses can readily be spread in school environments. Some of the illnesses can pose major complications for those who become afflicted, according to Hawkinson.
Furthermore, Hawkinson added that strep throat can cause serious complications and lead to hospitalization, and any of the respiratory infections can cause pneumonia and severe breathing problems, while GI pathogens can cause major dehydration and lead to hospitalization.
Influenza is also easily shared at schools, as youngsters are more prone to catch it and pass it to others.
Contrasting Respiratory Infections from COVID-19, and the Right Actions to take
Differentiating respiratory infections from COVID-19, according to Dr. Anne Liu, an infectious disease researcher at Stanford University in California, can be challenging because symptoms are often identical.
If a child experiences any COVID-19-related symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that they stay at home and be tested.
They should only return to school if their symptoms have improved for at least ten days and they haven’t had a fever for 24 hours without the usage of fever-reducing drugs.
If the testing is negative, the fever has gone away, and there are no breathing concerns, wheezing, or shortness of breath that would demand a trip to the doctor or emergency room, then I would recommend following the school’s rules at that point, Liu opined.
Even if a COVID-19 test is negative, the CDC recommends that children with flu-like symptoms but no fever stay at home to reduce the risk of infection transmission.
If a kid has a fever, he or she should stay at home for at least 24 hours after the fever has subsided, without taking any fever-reducing drugs. Children with a compromised immune system may need to stay at home for more extended periods.
Children with norovirus, a highly contagious GI virus, should stay at home for the duration of their illness and for two days after their symptoms have subsided.
Diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and stomach discomfort are some of the symptoms. When norovirus is present in a shared setting, it can swiftly spread. Norovirus is exceedingly contagious and is responsible for the majority of infectious diarrhea transmissions in communal settings, according to Liu.
Furthermore, Liu explained that the norovirus is a horrible infection. It can manifest with or without a fever. Still, the accompanying vomiting and diarrhea can be quite severe, and it can spread quickly in schools, daycares, nursing homes, and hospitals.
The Expert Advised Parents and Caregivers to Get the Jab
Infectious respiratory ailments and gastrointestinal infections, according to Hawkinson, can quickly spread in schools for a variety of reasons.
First, many people, particularly children, may not practice proper hand hygiene and cleanliness, and youngsters spend much of the school day together.
In addition, it may be more difficult, especially for younger children, to maintain a safe distance while maintaining physical touch. In certain environments, respiratory or gastrointestinal sickness can easily transmit from person to person or through touching surfaces, Hawkinson asserted.
Parents and caregivers can, however, take precautions to help their children from being sick at school.
Hawkinson advised the parents and caregivers to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and when the flu vaccine becomes available this year, they have to get it as well.
In the meantime, the use of the mask is recommended, according to Hawkinson. Nevertheless, he urged parents and caregivers to continue speaking with their children and encourage frequent handwashing with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitizer to avoid illness.