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Q&A: Back to school advice on what to do if your student tests positive for COVID-19

Sep 18, 2020

The school year is underway for many students in Michigan, while other students head back to school this month. 

At the same time, the big question for parents, students, teachers and staff is how to cope with the novel coronavirus outbreak.

More: Not all coronavirus tests are the same: What to know about the different types

Experts say that teaching a child proper hygiene at home can be one of the basic things to keep them safe while at school.  Many schools have different policies on what to do when a child comes in contact with the virus or becomes sick. Parents should know these policies before sending their kids back to the classroom, experts say.

Here are safety tips from Dr. Alison Tribble, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Michigan Medicine C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Scott Grant, general pediatrician at the Detroit Medical Center Children's Hospital of Michigan: 

How can I ensure safety from COVID-19 for my child when they're at school?

Tribble: "As much as possible, children should be wearing masks, just like adults, even when they're in school. At the same time, still maintaining distance from other people that aren't in your household as much as you can. Doing both of those together is more protection than just one by itself.

"Frequent hand hygiene is also really important — teaching kids to properly wash their hands and use hand sanitizer. Especially before and after they eat, after they touch their face, or use a tissue."

Grant: "Within the tri-county area, Wayne, Oakland and Macomb, they're doing testing at the old state fairgrounds. You can actually get testing there without a prescription. You just need to call and make an appointment. There's a phone number that you can call 313-230-0505. They're doing testing for all kids, six and older. You just have to bring an ID and proof of residency that you live in one of those three counties."

My child just tested positive for COVID-19 after returning to school. What should I do now?

Grant: "The first thing that I would think about is the importance of keeping a close eye on your kid to see if they develop any symptoms from COVID-19, depending on the circumstances under which they were tested. They may still be asymptomatic.

"If they were having symptoms, you'd want to keep an eye out for common symptoms which could look a lot like upper respiratory infections. Things like coughs, runny nose, sneezing and fever. If any of these symptoms are getting worse, causing them to have problems with difficulty breathing or (if) the fever is lasting for several days, you probably would want to get in touch with either your primary pediatrician, family doctor or go to a local emergency department to get further evaluated." 

"At the point that your child does test positive for COVID-19, the best situation would be to try to keep them at home as much as possible and isolate them from as many people as possible. For most kids, it's safer to be riding in the back seat of the car. So maybe for some other kids who might have gotten used to sitting in the front seat of the car, it may make sense to put them in the backseat, depending on who else is in the car with you. If you have to go out, make sure that they are wearing a mask or some sort of facial covering over the nose and mouth. The most important point would be to try as much as possible within your home to keep that child separated from the other kids."

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