Julie McClellan / New Westminster Record – Jan 13 2022 / 10:47 AM | Story: 356917
Photo: Unsplash / Vitolda Klein
If your child has a runny nose, should he stay home and not go to school?
It’s a simple question – but the official answer isn’t very straightforward.
With the number of COVID-19 cases in British Columbia rising in the face of an omicron surge, and students now returning to the classroom, parents are faced with the ever-present question: When should I keep my child at home?
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry noted at BC’s COVID-19 briefing Jan. 11 that fully vaccinated people are less likely to spread COVID-19 to others.
However, children ages 5 to 11 in British Columbia are not yet fully vaccinated, because the first children in that age group won’t be eligible for their second doses of Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine until the week of January 24.
In light of this fact, Henry said, there is no “simple answer” to the question of when to keep children at home.
“You know your kids. You know if they have symptoms that are worrying and worrying, and you keep them at home. Some of this will be Omicron — and that has to do with where they are, who they are around, what’s going on in your family and your situation,” she said.
Henry cautioned that a “low threshold” is needed to keep children home with cold-like symptoms, noting that in many cases Omicron starts out like a cold.
“Sure, if you have a fever, you need to stay home,” she said.
But in cases where a child has a runny nose and cough, Henry acknowledged that it can be hard to tell. She said parents in these cases can do their daily health checks and think about it, or take a day to see if symptoms start to improve.
The BC Center for Disease Control does not currently list a runny nose or nasal congestion on its list of COVID-19 symptoms, but this list was updated—as currently posted on the BCCDC website—before the Omicron variant appeared. In the United States, the CDC now lists “congestion or runny nose” on its list of COVID-19 symptoms.
As it stands now, not everyone with symptoms in British Columbia is able to get a COVID-19 test.
Fraser Health advises people with mild symptoms who have been fully vaccinated to stay home and away from others for five days. (This currently only applies to older students, specifically those in the 12-17 year age group who have had two doses of the vaccine.)