5 tips to keep children healthy as they return to school

Keeping children healthy
Posted at 9:51 AM, Sep 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-08 21:01:21-04

NORTHEAST WISCONSIN (NBC 26) -- As thousands of children have returned to school, we've started to see positive COVID-19 tests force some students and staff into quarantine.

We talked with a Bellin Health pediatrician about what parents can do to help keep their children safe and what they can do if they are forced to quarantine. Here are five pieces of advice from Dr. Laura Gallistel.

1. Don't send your kids to school if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19

In previous years, parents may have sent their kids to school with a runny nose or upset stomach. Dr. Gallistel said those symptoms need to be treated more seriously now.

“We really need to make sure that they’re doing okay, make sure it’s not coronavirus,” she said. “There are people that have fever, but the last statistic I saw there’s less than 50 percent that even have fever. Other things to watch for would be cough and congestion, runny nose, stuffy nose. Some people are just having sore throats, body aches, chills, vomiting, diarrhea. It can have many different symptoms, and that’s the hard part with this.”

2. Call your doctor if symptoms develop

“The best thing is just calling your doctor because we ask questions," Dr. Gallistel said. "Sometimes we don’t need to see the kids. Sometimes it’s just running a test, sometimes it’s not, but really right now we just want to identify who has coronavirus so we can really try to minimize exposures to other people and keep everybody safe.”

3. Practice good hygiene at home

Dr. Gallistel said people can develop symptoms within two weeks after exposure to the coronavirus, but it is possible to spread the virus before symptoms develop. There are some ways to try to stay healthy at home.

“One of the biggest things I think is everyone does very good hand washing," Dr. Gallistel said. "We should have all been doing it anywhere, but after the bathroom - soap and water, after you play outside, before you eat - soap and water. Make sure your kids are doing that right now.”

4. Try to distance (somewhat) at home

If somebody in the household has tested positive for COVID-19, the rest of the family will have to quarantine. That means some families may be spending a lot of time near each other in the home. Dr. Gallistel said parents will have to care for their children, but she recommends families try to find some ways to keep people a little bit distanced if possible.

“The recommendation right now is that if someone has coronavirus they really should be away from everybody else at home, but obviously if you have a young kid that has it, you need a parent to take care of them,” she said. “The best is to keep everything as separate as possible. If you have bathrooms, the child that has coronavirus can use a different bathroom. If not, if you want to wipe stuff down after they’re in there and just be diligent about that kind of stuff.”

5. Wear a mask

Dr. Gallistel said it's an important part of overall safety.

“Make sure that you’re wearing your mask at school," she said. "Kids have to be taught how to wear a mask too, that you can’t be touching it all the time. You want to make sure the mask fits appropriately too.”