At this point, some parents in British Columbia may be confused at what seems like ever-changing rules surrounding what to do if your child tests positive for COVID-19. When can you send them back to school? Does it change depending on whether they’re vaccinated or unvaccinated? Should you pull your child’s other siblings out of class as well?
Fortunately, the BC Centre for Disease Control provides this guidance on its website, but CHEK News has compiled everything pertaining to school-age children in this article so parents know what to do if their child falls ill.
Should I have my child tested?
The centre has updated its guidance on whether you should seek a PCR test for your child if they begin displaying symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, loss of sense of smell or taste, sore throat etc.).
Currently, PCR tests are being reserved for those who live in work in the highest-risk settings such as health care facilities or are at risk of more severe illness.
Anyone, including children, who displays mild symptoms does not require a PCR test, but should stay home and away from others until their symptoms subside and they no longer have a fever, according to the BCCDC.
As for rapid tests, the province provides an online screening tool to assess you or your child’s symptoms. If testing is recommend, call the BC Services call centre at 1-844-901-8442 to arrange pickup.
What do I do if my child has COVID-19 and is fully vaccinated?
If you’re the parent of a student over 12 years of age who has received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the BC Centre for Disease Control states that you can send your child back to school within five days of them testing positive or five days since symptoms began, whichever is longer.
But children must also have no fever for 24 hours without the use of medicine like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and symptoms must have also improved.
The BCCDC also recommends children avoid “higher risk settings” like large gatherings or attending long-term care facilities for another five days after ending isolation.
My child has only received one or no vaccinations and has tested positive. What now?
The BCCDC has recently updated its guidance on what to do if your child is partially vaccinated or hasn’t received any doses.
Previously, partially or unvaccinated children could not return to school until 10 days after testing positive.
But as of this week, health officials now say they can resume in-person classes and activities after five days if their symptoms have improved and they don’t have a fever.
According to the BCCDC website, those under 18 who have tested positive and are not fully vaccinated do not have to be re-tested after their self-isolation period ends.
My unvaccinated child is a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19, such as a sibling.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has repeatedly stated that unvaccinated close contact of a positive case can go about their daily lives, whether it be attending daycare or school, as long as they show no symptoms.
This includes siblings of children who test positive for COVID-19.
But if a child begins to show symptoms, they should isolate and can return to school in five days so long as their symptoms improve and fever is gone.
If a fully vaccinated child (12+) has a sibling who tests positive for COVID-19 and they are not showing any symptoms, they can continue to attend school.
“You don’t need to isolate if you’ve been a contact and you’re a healthy child, we need to help people walk through what that’s going to look like in the coming days,” Henry said recently.
My child tested positive for COVID-19 on a rapid test. Do I report it?
The BCCDC says that if you or a family member tests positive on a rapid antigen test, you should complete an online form to report the results.
It also recommends notifying all of your close contacts, then self-isolate and manage your symptoms until they approve.
Public health may follow up on your positive test result to ask where you have been before you got sick with COVID-19.
Participation is voluntary and information is kept for public health assessment only.
My child’s COVID-19 symptoms are getting worse
While it’s rare for children to become severely ill from COVID-19, the BCCDC recommends you take your child to the ER or call 911 if they:
- have difficulty breathing
- have blue lips or skin, or appear very pale
- have red and/or swollen lips or tongue
- are coughing excessively, particularly with a fever
- are vomiting excessively, especially if there is blood in the vomit
- have diarrhea and vomiting, are not producing tears, and have not urinated for several hours
- have a high fever, appears very sleepy, and has not improved with acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).
- are under three months of age and have a fever of 38 degrees Celsius or higher
- have pain or pressure in the chest that does not go away
- display new confusion
- have the inability to wake up or stay awake
- have a severe abdominal pain
- have a spreading rash