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Children's Hospital looks at "What if" scenarios to help schools safely open up

Children's Hospital Colorado Springs
Posted at 7:42 AM, Aug 07, 2020

COLORADO SPRINGS — Children's hospital Colorado has released a guide to help schools and public health officials manage a potential outbreak, including different scenarios for when to stay home and contact the school, identifying symptoms, and preparing for a safe return.

The Children’s Colorado protocols clarify definitions for exposure, symptoms, testing, isolation and quarantine and also urge schools to have a clearly agreed upon screening process in place to help ensure that sick students and staff don’t come to school.

“It is important to remember that schools’ ability to safely engage in re-opening for in-person learning is directly tied to the circulation of COVID-19 within a community. When a community is consistently engaged in safe practices like social distancing and wearing face coverings, it is more likely that community can support a safe return to school,” said Sam Dominguez, MD, infectious disease specialist at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

The guide then addresses what happens when someone has symptoms or has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms with scenarios for when to stay home and/or contact the school, when to get a test, how to monitor and identify symptoms, when to isolate, and how to plan for a safe return to school. Scenarios include:

  • Scenario 1: What happens when a student, staff or family member experiences COVID-19 symptoms?
  • Scenario 2: What happens when someone doesn’t experience symptoms until they are at school?
  • Scenario 3: What happens when a person is exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?
  • Scenario 4: What happens if someone tests positive for COVID-19 but doesn’t experience symptoms?
  • Scenario 5: What happens when a student or staff person is asymptomatic but has been exposed to someone who has symptoms and who hasn’t gotten test results?
  • Scenario 6: What happens when someone is exposed to someone who is exposed to someone who tested positive with COVID-19 (two layers removed)?

"If you have any symptoms you should probably be out of school and then you can be monitored for a little while," Dr. Dominguez explained. "If those symptoms are on the more high risk side you need to get testing for those symptoms. If you have mild symptoms you can talk to your primary care provider to determine whether or not you need testing, or if there might be an alternative explanation for those symptoms."

The plan also recommends schools have a designated screening area for students and staff who have symptoms. For more information, click here.