ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — As students come down with various illnesses it presents a challenge for parents, guardians, and schools.
Dr. Mathew Devine, the Medical Director at Highland Family Medicine, discussed the steps health care professionals and school districts are taking to keep students safe.
“Since school age children have returned we have been following the county COVID-19 new case levels closely,” Dr. Devine said. “Based on other school districts around the country we did expect there to be a slight increase in COVID-19 cases once children returned to school. To date, the levels have been stable but there was an increase in cases that occurred at the end of last week that we are now closely following. We will continue to trace these cases to help inform those who have been exposed to try to contain the spread of COVID-19.”
Dr. Devine said the Finger Lakes Task Force is working on helping to get the school nurses and doctors office aware of the guidelines for care. “It is also important that this task force communicates these guidelines to all of the different school districts. Since there are different types of schooling offered from remote, to hybrid, to in-person everyday it is important that the district continue to work closely with this task force so that the right actions are taken when a child has an illness.”
When it comes to COVID-19, Dr. Devine said he trend continues that if children are infected they usually have a mild case or in some cases they are asymptomatic. “This is a fortunate part of the virus however we do not want our children spreading this to older adults who can have a worse reaction. In addition, while there is an ongoing threat of catching COVID-19, there are many other bacterial and viral illnesses that children are also contracting. Since some of the symptoms of these illness are similar to COVID-19 it is important to rule out COVID. There are cases that we do identify – items like strep throat – where there are clear symptoms. In these particular cases, COVID testing is not needed.”
Each school district has a daily health screening process that employees and the parents/guardians of students are asked to complete prior to the school day. “Children who are learning remotely still need to be up to date on immunizations and yearly well-child visits with their pediatrician,” said Dr. Devine. “If the symptoms tell them not to report to school then they need to contact their healthcare providers for next steps. Some primary care offices do their own COVID-19 testing but most do not. The office can tell you where to go to get this done. Since we are at a time of year that it is normal to have childhood illness there are going to be more COVID tests being done to rule this out as the cause. With more tests being done there can be a delay in getting the results which could result in school days being missed. This can cause a family member to stay home with the child which also results in absences from work. Since we want safety for our children and want them to be in school without extended absences, the work of the task force has been very helpful in creating guidelines that we can follow to help get our kids the care they need and to do our best to stop the spread of COVID-19 while getting them the education that they need.”
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