Back-To-School 101: Treating kids with possible COVID-19 symptoms

SPOKANE, Wash. — Even though transmission has been reported as low among area schools, students are still seeing the doctor for COVID-19, the flu and common cold.

Dr. Kristi Rice, a pediatrician at Providence Family Medicine – Northpointe, says the most common symptoms sending kids home or to the doctor these days is a cough and runny nose.

These can by symptoms of a common cold or early signs of COVID-19.

Even for doctors, it can be difficult to differentiate.

Some other symptoms that aren’t as common — fever, isolated diarrhea and vomiting.

Dr. Rice says she has come into contact with young patients who ended up testing positive for COVID-19.

One case involved a girl who had a sore throat — originally it appeared as a case of strep throat, only later to be diagnosed as coronavirus.

If your child gets sick at school, you can bring them to the doctor to get screened and tested for COVID-19.

The same goes for students who have been exposed, but maybe aren’t feeling sick just yet.

Here’s what Dr. Rice advises for your child’s quarantine period: While they’re at home, keep them at home and watch for symptoms.

If any symptoms develop during quarantine, like a runny nose or cough, treat it like you would the flu or common cold.

Make sure they get rest, fluids and eat three meals each day.

But any symptoms that worsen are a sign that you need to bring them in for further treatment.

“If they have a cough that’s worsening, they’re working harder to breathe or they have a fever that’s lasting more than three days, those are usually times that we recommend that they come back in or call us for further care,” said Rice.

Providence says this is normally the busiest time of year seeing kids because of the flu, common cold and other illnesses.

But the amount of patients has drastically gone down since March of last year, mostly likely due to virtual learning and all the safety guidelines now existing in the classroom.

“This is a really busy time and we’re seeing probably half the number of sick kids, maybe less than that,” said Rice. “So our social distancing, hand washing and masking efforts have helped prevent all of the other childhood diseases that usually go around.”

Dr. Rice says she is an advocate for kids going back to class, not only for their physical health, but their mental health.

She advises parents help keep COVID-19 out of schools by keeping their kids masked up and following COVID-19 guidelines out in the community as well.

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