It has been almost two weeks since students across Ontario went back to in-person classes. Coupled with their return is the change of weather seasons and the possibility of a season flu being mistaken for COVID-19.
The Northwestern Health Unit has more information for parents on what to know if they have a sick child at home.
Kit Young-Hoon, medical officer of health at the NWHU, said when a child gets sick, parents have a few options that do not require requesting a physician note or a doctor’s note.
“If a parent thinks it could be COVID-19, they could get them tested for COVID-19 at an assessment centre,” Young-Hoon said. “If they get a positive result, then the Northwestern Health Unit will follow up with that individual.”
If either the test comes back negative or the parents know that there is another cause to the symptoms especially if it’s a non-infectious cause, the student can go back to school, Young-Hoon said.
The NWHU said there is a screening tool available on the Ontario website for COVID-19. Young-Hoon said every parent should use that in the morning for every student in order to determine whether their child can go to school.
“If the parent feels that there is another cause for the symptom, but they are uncertain, they can speak to their family doctor or a healthcare provider,” Young-Hoon said. “If the child sees a healthcare provider and has been given an ultimate diagnosis or is not recommended testing for COVID-19, they can return to school after they have been symptom free for 24 hours.”
However, if a healthcare provider recommends testing, but for whatever reason the child does not get tested, then they must stay home for 14 days since the day that the symptom started, Young-Hoon added.
In order to protect privacy students’ privacy, the NWHU said they will not announce which school has a case. However, if there is an outbreak schools and school boards are required to communicate details regarding any exposure to their school communities.
An outbreak in a school will be declared if there are two or more cases of COVID-19 in a 14-day period that are linked to each other, and with evidence that infection occurred at the school, Young-Hoon said.
“The information about an individual case is usually not relevant to what members of the public need to do,” Young-Hoon said.
“If we get a case, it does not change that everybody should be following general public health advice and messages such as physical distancing, good hand hygiene, avoid touching your face, wear a mask or face covering in enclosed public spaces and staying home when you’re sick and consider getting tested.”
So far there are 25,000 tests done across the region, with a total of 46 positive cases that have been resolved. There are currently no active positives in the region.