Is it possible for schools to be COVID-free?
Not likely, says a local expert in infectious diseases.
And that puts parents and school administrators in a quandary.
“I think it’s almost inevitable that schools will see COVID cases,” says Dr. Stephen Blatt, Tri-Health Medical Director for Infectious Diseases.
“I think between now and Sept. 15 or so - the first month - is going to be telling and we’ll be able to find out whether we have the right plans in place or not,” Blatt says.
COVID-19 cases in kids are showing up as schools across the nation begin to open. In the Tri-State, schools in Dearborn County, Indiana, are the first. Some schools are pushing back the start date while others consider online only for right now.
In Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, cases for 18-and-unders are just short of 10% of each state’s total.
As school begins, a simple headache could trigger concerns for parents and administrators.
Blatt advises erring on the side of caution.
“One of the really difficult problems with COVID is it has such a wide variety of symptoms that it’s hard to know which students should be excluded from school and which shouldn’t,” Blatt says.
“You sure don’t want your kid to be the one to start an outbreak in school, so have a low index of suspicion to get tested and keep your child home if they’re not well.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, children are less likely to have severe complications from COVID-19 but they can still get sick. Here are symptoms to look for:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
The South Dearborn Community School Corporation’s website lists steps parents should take if their child shows symptoms. Steps include informing school leaders, isolation, and taking a COVID-19 test.
In his Monday COVID briefing, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear recommended delaying the start of in-person classes in Kentucky until Sept. 28.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is expected to give an update on schools Tuesday afternoon.