Going back to school? What to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms

CBC Kids News • Published 2020-08-27 10:19
UPDATE: Since this article was first published, some provinces like Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia changed the rules around going to school if students are sick. For example, if a kid has the sniffles, they can go to school. If they have a fever or a cough, they have to stay home. If you aren't sure, check with your teacher.

Students are expected to check for symptoms every day

Schools are about to open across the country, and there are a lot of new rules to follow.

You’ve probably heard that you’ll need to do self-screenings before you go to school every day.

It’s a pretty simple process, where you go through a checklist of COVID symptoms.

What are COVID-19 symptoms in kids? Watch this video:

But what happens if you or someone you live with answers yes to any of the questions?

Here’s what you need to know.

What happens if I’m sick?

If you’re sick at all, you need to stay home.

Even if you have the sniffles or a sore throat, you can’t enter your school.

While most years you might just power through, this year will be different.

If you start to feel sick and you’re already at school, you’ll be sent home right away.

Teens sit at desks wearing masks.

In most schools, students in Grade 5 and up will be required to wear masks. (Image credit: Ina Fassbender/AFP/Getty Images)

When can I go back to school?

Most provinces recommend you get a COVID-19 test.

While you’re waiting for the result, you need to self-isolate at home.

If the test comes back negative, you can go back to school.

If it comes back positive, you’ll need to stay home until you’re better and public health says it’s OK to go back.

In Ontario, for example, you may not need to get a test, but you’ll have to self-isolate for 14 days and be symptom-free before you can go back.

If you have a pre-existing condition, you’ll want to talk to your doctor before you start school, so you can make a plan.

To test for COVID-19, you need to get a swab from a health-care professional.  (Image credit: Sakis Mitrolidis/AFP/Getty Images)

What about my brothers and sisters?

Each province is different, but generally, your siblings can go to school as long as no one in your house has had a positive COVID-19 test.

They should be extra vigilant about their self-screening, though, if someone has symptoms.

As soon as anyone in your household (including your brothers and sisters and parents) has been in contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19, they must self-isolate for 14 days.

A doctor examines a child in a doctor's office.

A visit to the doctor may not be necessary if you get sick, but if you have a pre-existing condition, you should contact your doctor before school starts. (Image credit: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters)

How do I know if I need to stay home or not?

Your school will have a specific plan to answer your questions.

In Ontario, the government has specified that if someone in your cohort tests positive for COVID-19, everyone in that cohort needs to self-isolate.

In Alberta, for example, if you’ve been in contact with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19, and they were in contact with someone who has COVID-19, you need to stay home.

In Nova Scotia, siblings are only required to stay home from school if they develop symptoms or if someone in their household tests positive for COVID-19.

Same goes for Manitoba.

Students in masks line up to get their temperature checked.

In some countries, students get their temperature checked when they arrive at school. (Image credit: Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images)

Does this sound really complicated? It is.

And things could change if COVID-19 starts spreading more.

That’s why it’s important to keep up to date with what your school is planning to do.

One thing is for sure, if you’re going back to school, you can expect some interruptions once germs — of any kind — start spreading.

Do you have more questions about going back to school? Check out these articles:

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