With cold and flu season upon us, every little sniffle and clearing of the throat is spreading fears of COVID-19.
But an Interior Health officer is reminding residents, parents and children to spread kindness amid these strange times.
“This is going to be a very unique season because when someone coughs or sneezes we are going to think COVID,” Interior Health medical health officer Karin Goodison said at a recent meeting with Vernon School District representatives.
“Lots of respiratory illnesses are going to be going around.”
Most of them will not be COVID-19, Goodison said.
Children now have a reduced list of symptoms to watch for, which include: fever, chills, cough or worsening of chronic cough, shortness of breath, loss of sense of smell or taste, diarrhea or nausea and vomiting.
Those with one of these symptoms should stay home for 24 hours from the onset of the symptom. They may return to school when they feel well enough and if the symptom improves.
Those with two or more of the symptoms, or those with a fever, should seek a health assessment and should not return to school until COVID-19 has been excluded and symptoms have improved.
Tests are recommended and may result in fewer missed days of school if a negative result is obtained.
“The other option would be, if their symptoms are likely or possibly COVID-19, then we would ask that the student stay away from school for 10 days from the symptom onset,” Goodison said.
Students no longer have to undergo nasal swabs for COVID-19 tests as a saline gargle test is available for youths.
Those who are ill will be sent home, Vernon School District’s assistant director of human resources Erica Schmidt said.
“It’s probably going to happen pretty regularly because children do often get sick,” Schmidt said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that the child has COVID-19.”
Goodison urges everyone to keep that in mind.
“I want everyone to really be kind at this time,” Goodison said. “It’s a difficult time for everyone. Be kind to people and be calm and be safe, as Bonnie Henry would tell us all.”
Meanwhile, some parents aren’t happy with the social distancing, or lack thereof, at schools.
“My kids have been in school for a week and they are all home sick now,” said George Bonneau.
He points to the lack of social distancing at the schools, particularly high schools where kids are huddled in groups sharing vapes.