When should parents keep kids home from school? Doctor outlines COVID, other symptoms to look for

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Thursday, August 11, 2022
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It's not always obvious to spot symptoms of illness in children, whether it's from COVID or something else. A local pediatrician outlined what parents should look out for when deciding to keep their kids home from school.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- It's back to school for kids, and parents are concerned about what that looks like with the coronavirus and it's subvariants still infecting people.

"Kids are germy, they're like cesspools, petri dishes of germs," said parent Briana Pastorino.

Pastorino is sending her two kids back to the school in the Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District. She says even though both are vaccinated, she's concerned because she says many children have not been taught good hygiene habits.

"I worry about just other kids and hand hygiene, sanitizer, you know, basic hygiene such as covering their mouth when they cough, and using tissues, and washing their hands after they cough, and those things," she described.

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Pastorino said she'll pay close attention to symptoms if her kids say they don't feel well.

"If my daughter tells me or my son tells me, 'Mom, I don't feel well, my tummy hurts, I feel like I'm going to throw up,' you know, if they want to lay down, they're kids, when they tell me they want to lay down, they clearly don't feel well," Pastorino said.

Dr. Alexandra Clark, the division chief of pediatrics at Loma Linda University Children's Hospital, says when your child is too sick to be at school, keep them home. She described some symptoms to look out for.

"When to keep a child home - absolutely, when your child is too sick to be at school, too sick to be learning, if they have a fever, vomiting, diarrhea, those are really things that kids should not go to school with. They're just going to spread whether it's coronavirus or some other infectious etiology," Clark said.

Clark says while good hygiene is a must, the best defense against the virus is vaccination.

The doctor strongly recommends vaccinations for children 6 months and above, and says while it doesn't prevent total disease, it does prevent more severe disease and hospitalization.

She added that if your kid has the sniffles and you are debating whether they should be kept home, testing can help ease your mind. She also recommends testing for parents who are concerned their child might have the virus.