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April 23, 2021 - 5:19pm

Parents need to continue to coach children on COVID guidelines as interactions ramp up, RHH doctor warns

posted by Howard B. Owens in Rochester Regional Health, news, COVID-19, notify.

As school-aged children starting spending more time at school with other children, get involved in more activities, both structured and socially, it's important that parents continue to safeguard their families and their communities by ensuring CDC guidelines are followed.

Social distancing, mask-wearing, and keeping symptomatic children home are all key parts of slowing the spread of COVID-19, said Dr. Steven Schulz, pediatric medical director for Rochester Regional Health, in a conference call this morning with reporters.

"I think the biggest thing is looking at your situation from a community approach and wanting to make sure everybody in your child's class is maintaining health and the community as well," Schulz said.

"That involves following the rules that have been, again, set forward through the CDC and Department of Health. And so wearing those masks is important.

"Keeping your kid home from school, if they have any potential illness symptoms and having them evaluated is important; filling out those daily assessments to make sure your kid is safe to go to school and working with them and talking with them about the importance of continued masking, especially outside of school when they might be getting together with friends, whether that's in a school sport or just on their own.

"That's the area where we can see the spread. And it's important that they're continuing to mask and keep social distancing even in those social settings."

Children, Schulz noted, who catch COVID-19, have a high likelihood of being an asymptomatic spreader of the disease, which is why it is important they abide by the protocols. They can feel fine and still be spreading a deadly virus.

Children who are symptomatic should definitely stay home, Schulz said.

"I completely agree with erring on the side of caution in this case," Schulz said. "The (symptoms) that we worry the most about are fever, sustained headaches that are unusual for your child, loss of taste or smell, or especially if they have any symptom and have had exposure recently to somebody with COVID, they should definitely stay home. Other symptoms that can go along with it are runny nose, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, abdominal pain."

Because there are symptoms that overlap with season allergies and other illnesses, parents should consult with a doctor and get the child tested with a negative result before letting asymptomatic child leave the house.

This is especially important at a time when there is a greater spread of a COVID-19 variant that, while no more dangerous, does infect people more easily. That variant now accounts for 60 percent of the cases locally, the doctor said. 

Schulz's message comes alongside news that nationally 20 percent of the new, identified COVID cases are now among children, the highest percentage yet.

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