COVID-19 screening update: B.C. students with runny nose, headache or sore throat can now go to school
VANCOUVER -- Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, B.C. health officials have urged everyone to stay home if they are even the slightest bit sick.
But that advice has recently changed for the province's students.
Speaking at a news conference Monday, the provincial health officer addressed the update to advice from the Ministry of Health.
“There are so many things that cause children to have one symptom that has nothing to do with an infection,” Dr. Bonnie Henry said. “It’s a balancing act to make sure children are able to attend school as much as possible and minimizing the risk that they pose.”
The new checklist for parents says kids should stay home if they have fever, chills, a cough or shortness of breath, loss of the sense of taste or smell, or diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. But if they have a runny nose, a sore throat, headache, fatigue or body aches, they are no longer required to be absent.
“If you have a slight runny nose by itself, then that, in and of itself, is not a reason for a child — and we’re talking about children here — to necessarily stay home from school,” said Henry, who says guidelines for adults are different.
“We know children often have very mild symptoms, runny nose, not feeling well today, that clear up very quickly and are not indicative of COVID.”
B.C. teachers are concerned that the list of symptoms that should keep a child home from school has been shortened.
“We need to ensure for everyone’s safety that everyone attending school is healthy, so I think reducing the list sends a negative message,” said B.C. Teachers Federation president Teri Mooring.
The superintendent of the Surrey School District, which has seen the most cases of COVID-19 in schools in the province, isn’t concerned about the new guidelines.
“I think what you are seeing is a refinement of the science down to which symptoms we really need to watch for in order to have someone tested,“ said Jordan Tinney.
- Interactive map: Metro Vancouver schools with possible COVID-19 exposures
But some students are concerned. Caroline Czulinski is in Grade 10 at L.A. Matheson in Surrey, which has a positive case of COVID-19.
“I think that's a bit dangerous to come to school when you are feeling like that since the COVID symptoms are so similar,” she said. “I would prefer everyone stay home if they feel like that.”