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Back to Learning: Health officials and parents prepare for COVID in schools

Parents prepare for students going back to school
Published: Aug. 24, 2020 at 5:12 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Your child may have been exposed to coronavirus....it’s the phone call or school memo that parents are dreading this school year.

But local health officials are warning families to prepare and not to panic.

“There is not a reason to panic,” said Linda Vail, Ingham County Health Officer. “Wait to hear from the health department and the school to take action, which will happen quickly.”

The Ingham County Health Department says they have been working closely with school districts to determine the protocol for a positive case or cases.

“Outbreaks vs. just isolated cases cause different decisions, we are just trying to navigate what thresholds might be critical for those decisions,” said Vail.

That’s why Vail says contact tracing will be so important in these school situations.

“How contained was it? How was the mask wearing going? How was the social distancing going so we can determined if this was a fairly low risk or high risk exposure,” explained Vail.

Vail says the health department will be the one recommending who needs to quarantine and be tested.

“Really waiting more like a week to get tested after a known exposure is appropriate.”

That’s why local health experts say you should talk to your child about this process as they return to school.

“That might be nice motivation for a least a little bit of older children to play with their friends at a distance if they want to keep playing with their friends at all,” said Karen Kent VanGorder, M.D., a Sparrow Chief Medical Quality Officer

Although Kent VanGorder says children tend to be more asymptomatic with COVID, parents should still look for any signs of symptoms before and after school.

“While most kids with COVID still have cough and fever, many will have sore throat or extra sneezing or odd sensation about taste or smell,” said Kent VanGorder.

The health departments will continue to work with local schools to determine if a school would have to switch from in-person instruction to online learning due to covid-19 cases.

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