Is it just the sniffles or a symptom of COVID-19? Many parents have questions about when to keep their children home from school this year, and the Kent County Health Department is helping provide the answers.
The KCHD has created flow charts for students and staff to reference if they have symptoms that are concerning for COVID-19, with and without known exposure, and protocols for when testing is indicated. The charts also indicate what to do if there is known exposure to the virus even if symptoms are not present.
“It’s our goal to do two things that seem to be difficult to do at the same time — keep students out of school who are positive, and at the same time not be entirely disruptive for the school process,” said Joann Hoganson, director of community wellness for the department.
“We don’t want to unnecessarily keep kids out of school when physical symptoms are not due to COVID,” she said. “These (steps) help us determine if a person should stay home and monitor symptoms for a day, call their physician, get tested or begin isolation.”
As of Sept. 19, Kent County has had 8,572 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 164 deaths. Rates of positivity in testing — the percentage of tests taken coming back positive for the virus — is under 3 percent, which is “very good,” she said.
So far, return to school plans, as followed under the Michigan Return to School Roadmap, requiring masks, social distancing, cleaning of surfaces and cohorting students, seem to be working, she said.
“Overall we have been pleased (that) even though there have been a number of outbreaks, most of the outbreaks are due to activities that occurred outside of the classroom,” Hoganson said. “Protections have been effective in preventing widespread transmission.”