Schools, Parents Asked to Keep Sick Kids Home This Fall

Schools, Parents Asked to Keep Sick Kids Home This Fall Click to Enlarge Photo: Associated Press

(KNSI) - State health officials emphasize the need for children to stay home when sick this fall as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. The Minnesota Department of Health has released an exclusion guidance decision tree so families can see if a child should quarantine or not.

While the decision tree is designed to help families, state infectious disease director Kris Ehresmann says this is easier said than done.

"Thousands of parents have had their children home with them for months now," Ehresmann said. "They're ready to send their kids back into the classroom and are working to manage schedules that may only include a couple in-person school days. The prospect of suddenly needing to pivot to almost two weeks of isolation, to two weeks of school being completely remote is disruptive, to say the least."

However, Ehresmann said families should have a plan in case their child is sick or is potentially exposed to COVID-19.

As a screening tool, the exclusion guidance is one of the best prevention methods for school and childcare settings.

"Of those licensed childcare centers, certified centers, summer day camp and school-age care programs who operated between the months of March and August of this year who had a confirmed case in their program, the majority of them — 70 percent of those programs — had only one case and did not identify any additional cases," Susan Klammer, MDH K-12 school and childcare team leader, said.

While parents can use the decision guidance, schools and childcare facilities are encouraged to follow the decision tree tool if a child is sick or is potentially exposed to COVID-19.

"Please do not put school nurses or school staff in a difficult position by having to send your student home when they've arrived at school experiencing symptoms," Deb Mehr, School Nurse Organization of Minnesota president, said.

While the state's COVID-19 testing volume reached its highest single-day mark Saturday with 21,489 tests, health commissioner Jan Malcolm said with Minnesota's average test positivity rate at 4.9 percent, it's not time to let the guard down.

"Having this high level of cases day after day keeps us in a situation that calls for very much continued vigilance," Malcolm said.

The decision tree for schools and parents can be found on MDH's schools and childcare COVID-19 guidance webpage.