Changing school wellness checklist in B.C. offers confusion about COVID-19 precautions - InfoNews

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Changing school wellness checklist in B.C. offers confusion about COVID-19 precautions

Grade one teacher Heidi Dimou arranges the desks in line with physical distancing policy in her class in preparation for the new school year at the Willingdon Elementary School in Montreal, on Wednesday, August 26, 2020.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
September 22, 2020 - 2:05 PM

Since the start of the pandemic, B.C. health officials have asked that everyone put one thing above all else to stop the spread of COVID-19 — stay home if they feel even a little bit sick.

That was until this week.

New checklists for parents of school-age children ask that students stay home when they have fevers, chills coughs, loss of smell, etc. But if a child has a sore throat, headache, fatigue or runny nose, they could still go to school.

While it’s a departure from the mantra, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said it fits the data collected thus far.

“If you have a slight runny nose then that in and of itself is not a reason for a child — and we're talking about children here — to necessarily stay home from school,” Dr. Henry said. “If you have a fever or if you have a cough, those are things much more likely to be associated with something (like COVID-19) that may be transmissible to others.”

Dr. Henry said they built in a bit of leeway so parents of children can exercise some judgement.

“We know that children often have very mild symptoms — (like a) runny nose or not feeling well today — that clear up very quickly and are not indicative of COVID-19,” she said. “So it's a balancing act to make sure that children are able to attend school as much as possible and minimizing the risk that they pose.”

Dr. Henry said that there are so many things that cause children to have one symptom that has nothing to do with an infection.

“So we've put in a bit of a measure that allows parents, and then the students, if you're older, to make a judgment call around some of the minor symptoms that we know are not by themselves, usually associated with COVID-19.”

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