Health Update: New Guidance for Students/Staff Exhibiting COVID symptoms

The New York State Department of Health has recently issued updated guidance for schools in dealing with students and staff who exhibit symptoms during the school day that could be related to COVID-19.

Students with one or more of the symptoms below will need to be evaluated by their Healthcare Provider (HCP) and may need to receive COVID testing. We ask that parents have plans in place should they receive a call to pick up a child from school. While we realize travel time from some individuals’ workplaces can be up to an hour or more, students cannot be in the health offices or isolation spaces for that amount of time waiting for pick up. In addition, you could be notified to pick up your student if they are exposed to a potential case of COVID-19, even if they do not have symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 can include:

  • Fever (100.0 or greater) or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

Protocol for Symptomatic Students:

When a student presents with one or more possible COVID symptoms, they should be seen by their HCP (healthcare provider) within 48hrs. To return to school, they will need a note of clearance from their HCP which indicates that the student had a negative COVID test or that they were given an alternate diagnosis*. The student’s symptom(s) should be improving, and they must be fever free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications.

In the event that your child tests positive for COVID-19, our local departments of health will let you know when he/she can return to school. If your child is not seen by a healthcare provider within 48 hrs, our local health department will be contacted to determine when they can return to school (usually once 10 days have passed and they are feeling well).

* Alternate diagnoses can include a confirmed acute illness (examples: laboratory confirmed influenza or strep throat), or a known chronic condition with unchanged symptoms. If your child has a chronic or pre-existing condition(s) (such as seasonal allergies causing congestion or runny nose, migraines, irritable bowel) a symptomatic student will still need to see their HCP to get a diagnosis and possibly a COVID test when symptoms first present. We can then accept a health care provider’s note stating that the student has a chronic condition, and that specific listed symptoms can be expected due to said condition. The note should include a management plan if the symptoms reoccur (allergy or asthma treatment plan, migraine headache medicine, anxiety medicine, bowel, or menstrual medicine, etc.) If it is determined that your child has a chronic condition that is causing symptoms, you will not have to take them for repeated visits or tests.

Keeping children home

If your child is not feeling well, has a fever of 100.0 degrees or higher, or any possible symptoms of COVID-19 (as listed above) please keep them home and have them evaluated by their health care provider within 48 hours. Please do not provide them with medication to reduce symptoms/fever and then send them to school.

Any individual who has come in close contact with someone testing positive may need to quarantine for 14 days at home, the course of action will be determined by the health department.

Asthma medications in school

As recommended by our school medical director and numerous healthcare organizations, and in support of not spreading respiratory viruses during this school year, we are asking all students who require inhaled asthma medications to receive them by inhaler with a spacer rather than a nebulizer. If your doctor orders a nebulizer, we will be contacting him to help obtain support in teaching your child to use a spacer device. The other option may be to do the nebulizer at home.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in helping to keep all of our students and staff safe and healthy!

BH-BL Medical Director Dr. Stephen Sipperly  | BH-BL High School Nurse Donna Fredericks, RN  | O’Rourke Middle School Nurse Laura Jewell, RN  |  Stevens Elementary School Nurse Tracey Hay, RN |  Charlton Heights Elementary School Nurse Cheryl Traver, RN | Pashley Elementary School Nurse Jodi Reynolds, RN, BSN | BH-BL District Nurse April Park, RN