COVID-19 symptom check in schools skips runny noses, sore throats, other symptoms

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Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said in a Monday news conference that the change allows parents and older students to make “a judgment call around some of the minor symptoms that we know are not by themselves usually associated with COVID.”

“If you have a slight runny nose by itself, 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,” she said.

Stephen May, a Ministry of Health spokesman, said some of the symptoms were removed because they’re very common in children and could unnecessarily lead to students being excluded from classes.

“If anyone does have those symptoms that were removed, in combination with the ones that are still on the list, they should get tested. But those particular symptoms, on their own in children, are not suggestive of COVID-19,” he said.

The more limited list was built after a review of global data on symptoms, May said.

Taking the Vancouver school board’s health check as an example, the district states that all parents, guardians and caregivers must conduct an assessment of their kids each day before school. Those experiencing one key symptom are asked to stay at home for 24 hours from when it first appeared. If the symptom improves, the student can return to school, according to the document.

Those experiencing two or more key symptoms — or who experience a worsening single symptom — are told to seek a health assessment. That can include calling a doctor or nurse practitioner, or 811, and following their advice. Students in this situation shouldn’t come back to school until COVID-19 has been excluded as a cause and their symptoms have improved, according to the health check.

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