Mixed messages about sick kids are confusing, but decisions come down to parents: Haggie

There’s always a spike in runny noses and mild fevers with back-to-school season, but this September, symptoms that may or may not be related to COVID-19 are leaving parents in Newfoundland and Labrador wondering when to pull their kids from classes.

Currently, the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District’s COVID checklist states that children displaying two or more symptoms should stay home from school. 

However, previous information distributed to the schools had stated that children displaying one symptom should not come to school. 

Parents have flooded social media saying they are confused about what to do when their child wakes up feeling unwell, including having the sniffles. 

 Health Minister John Haggie said that decision ultimately comes down to the parent or guardian.

“At the end of the day, you make a conscientious decision based on what you see in front of you,” he said. “There is no script for that. That’s parenting, that’s knowing your child.”

At the same time, Haggie emphasized that parents with children who meet a threshold for illness must take appropriate action. 

“If your child is not right and not well, they shouldn’t go to school. It’s as simple and as complicated as that,” he said.

Health Minister John Haggie says it’s up to parents to decide if their child should go to school if they have any symptoms. (CBC)

The confusion has been complicated by a spike in cold and flu symptoms circulating around schools and has left parents and guardians jamming the 811 phone line.

“It’s unavoidable. It’s just school life,” said Jennifer Newhook, mother of two mildly sick children currently staying home from a St. John’s elementary school.

Newhook and many other parents have complained of long wait times to get guidance from 811, and an even harder time booking a COVID-19 test to clear their child to return to school.

As a result, she’s been forced to isolate at home with her four kids until they test negative.

“My fear is that people are going to simply avoid reporting their symptoms because they cannot manage the disruption to their lives,” she said.

Katie Whalen has a little boy in Grade 1 who came down with some cold symptoms. She spent two days calling Eastern Health’s COVID-19 line to book a test without success. (CBC)

Simple – and complicated

Katie Whalen called 811 over the weekend. She was told if her child’s symptoms dissipated by Monday and she was comfortable with it, then it was safe to send him back to school.

Her son was still sick on Monday, so he didn’t go back to school, but Whalen wasn’t comfortable with the idea of sending him back without knowing for sure that he didn’t have COVID-19.

“Even if they look fine, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t fine,” Whalen said. 

“They could still be spreading the germs and they could have been exposed to the virus. Maybe they haven’t been, but there’s still that possibility that they could have been exposed to it and they could be carriers.”

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Mixed messages about sick kids are confusing, but decisions come down to parents: Haggie

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/covid-19-school-sickness-parents-questioning-1.5724092?cmp=rss
Aggregated from: CBC | Newfoundland and Labrador News

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