Back to school: self-screening before you head out the door

"With parents, it's really important that there is the self-assessment"

The self-screening process is critical to ensure the health and safety of all students and staff.

“One of the safeguards in our schools is that parents would assess their children each morning in order to determine whether or not they have any of the symptoms of COVID-19,” said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Charles Gardner. “If they have any of those symptoms, they should not send their children to school and should report this to the school.”

Dr. Gardner adds any symptoms that last more than a few hours should be cause for a parent to keep their child home from school.

Those symptoms include:

  • fever (feeling hot to the touch, a temperature of 37.8 degrees Celsius or higher)
  • chills
  • cough that’s new or worsening (continuous, more than usual)
  • barking cough, making a whistling noise when breathing (croup)
  • shortness of breath (out of breath, unable to breathe deeply)
  • sore throat
  • difficulty swallowing
  • runny, stuffy or congested nose (not related to seasonal allergies or other known causes or conditions)
  • lost sense of taste or smell
  • pink eye (conjunctivitis)
  • headache that’s unusual or long-lasting
  • digestive issues (nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain)
  • muscle aches
  • extreme tiredness that is unusual (fatigue, lack of energy)
  • falling down often
  • for young children and infants: sluggishness or lack of appetite

“With parents, it’s really important that there is the self-assessment and you are not sending your child to school if they are suspected of being ill,” said Catherine McCullough, interim Education Director of the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board. “You do that checklist that is provided to all parents. We have a protocol in place within the school in the event there was ever any suspected case. We have isolation rooms and very prescriptive protocol in which we would support the student.”

McCullough said parents know their children best.

“If you have a child, for example, who has allergies, parents know what that looks like. They know what those symptoms might be. That’s part of a really formative self-assessment that we rely on our parents to do. Parents would know when something would seem out of the ordinary. Their child is exhibiting things they wouldn’t have ordinarily seen. That’s a really important piece we need their help with.”

“There are very wide-ranging symptoms, but if it comes down to if your child has an illness, consideration should be made that they have COVID-19. Therefore parents need to be airing on the side of not sending their children, and seeking assessment and follow-up,” Dr. Gardner concluded.