Q&A — Back-to-school COVID questions answered

Story by CBC Kids News • Published 2022-09-02 07:00

Masks, booster shots, long COVID and more

After two years of COVID-19, Canadian kids have gotten used to a school experience that includes masks, lockdowns and serious limits on extracurriculars.

This year, most school boards around Canada have dropped their masking requirements, and activities and gatherings are far less limited.

CBC Kids News spoke to Dr. Ayisha Kurji, a pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Saskatchewan. In our back-to-school Q&A, Kurji answered a few common questions around COVID-19.

Q: Will there be another wave of COVID-19?

A: I think we’re seeing already that case numbers seem to be going up in certain areas. [It’s] not everywhere yet, [but] I think it’s definitely possible that we will see another wave.

Q: Why do COVID cases tend to go up in the fall/wintertime?

A: One of the things that we know about COVID is that when you’re close to people, you’re more likely to spread it. [Being] indoors is worse than [being] outdoors. When we get cooler weather in Canada, we’re inside a lot more and more likely to spread it. That’s why we get higher numbers in the fall and wintertime.

Q: My school has no mask mandate. Should I wear one anyway?

A: I think it’s probably a good idea, especially if case numbers go up. Wearing masks inside when we’re around people is something to think about.

Q: What if kids at school question my choice to wear a mask?

A: Prepare an answer ahead of time. Think of saying something like, “This makes me more comfortable,” or “I want to protect everyone and this helps me do that.”

It’s also important to remember that whatever your choice is, to always be kind and respectful to others, even if their choice is different than yours.

Kids may be questioned on their choice to wear or not wear a mask at school. Dr. Ayisha Kurji said it’s handy to prepare your reason why you choose to wear one in advance. (Image credit: Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

Q: Do masks protect you, or just others?

A: They do both.

Q: What should I do if another kid in my class tests positive for COVID?

A: Every school has different policies and procedures around that. It really depends on how close you were standing to [your classmate] and whether or not you’re vaccinated. If someone in your class tests positive, at the very minimum, make sure you’re watching yourself for any possible symptoms. If you have any symptoms, then take a test.

Q: I’ve been vaccinated. Should I also get a booster shot?

A: Our national advisory committee on immunizations recommended last week that we offer boosters for kids aged five to 11 when they’re available. The more recent your vaccine is, the more protected you are.

Some provinces have already approved boosters. Watch this video to find out what they do:

Q: I’ve never been vaccinated. Should I bother now?

A: We’re still seeing COVID cases and expect that case numbers may go up this year. Even if you haven’t had a vaccine, it will help protect you if you get one now.

Q: What is long COVID and can kids get it?

A: Long COVID is when symptoms of COVID-19 take a long time to go away. Some of the symptoms are brain fog, where people feel like they’re not able to concentrate as well, fatigue and muscle aches and pains. While it’s more common in adults than kids, it’s another reason why you should protect yourself from COVID.

Q: What should I do if I get COVID?

A: If you’re sick, make sure you stay home. Wash your hands a lot. Many times it's like a cold, so make sure you stay hydrated and rest.

For the first time in years, many schools across Canada will not require their students to wear masks. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Q: Should I test myself for COVID even if I have a sniffle?

A: Any symptom that is new or not normal for you is a time where you should test. If you don’t normally have a sniffle, it could be COVID.

Q: When will the pandemic end?

A: I wish I knew: hopefully soon. As long as we continue to do our best not to spread it, get vaccinated and stay home when we’re sick, the faster it will be over.

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TOP IMAGE CREDIT: John Morris/Reuters

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