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When will children be back in school? Your COVID-19 questions answered

We're answering questions about the pandemic. Send yours to covid@cbc.ca and we’ll answer as many as we can. We’re publishing a selection of answers every weekday online, and also putting some of your questions to the experts during The National and on CBC News Network.

From going back to school, to CPAP machines and ventilators, here's what you’re asking today

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Michael Gardam joins Heather Hiscox to answer COVID-19 questions. 4:56

We're breaking down what you need to know about the pandemic by answering your questions. Send yours to covid@cbc.ca and we'll answer as many as we can. We're publishing a selection of answers every weekday online, and putting some of your questions to the experts during The National and on CBC News Network.  

We've received thousands of emails from all corners of the country. Your questions cover a range of topics including a number about CPAP machines and going back to school. 

When can children go back to school?

CBC Kids tells us the No. 1 question about COVID-19 they're hearing is when will children get to go back to school. Adults are also wondering when this will all be over, including Anastasia from Bainsville, Ont.

Every province is dealing with their COVID-19 outbreaks differently, which means schools in some provinces could open up earlier than others. There is no definitive date. 

Dr. Brian Goldman — host of CBC Radio's White Coat Black Art and new podcast The Dose — says once public health officials confirm we're past the peak of COVID-19, and the number of cases starts going down, we'll be on the right track.

But that's "unlikely to happen in the next two to three weeks," Goldman says. "I think all of us need to prepare for the strong possibility that school won't start again until June or the summer, or the fall."  

You can listen to more questions from kids on this episode of the CBC's The Current.

Would a CPAP machine help as a ventilator?

We received a lot of questions, including one from Bienvenido I., about whether continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines could be used to help COVID-19 patients.

The limited supply of ventilators is one of the key concerns facing hospitals as they prepare for more COVID-19 cases. CPAP machines are used to provide minor breathing support to sleep apnea patients. However, one doctor says they're not a substitute for ventilators.

"If someone was pretty sick with [COVID-19,] I don't think that would particularly help them," said Dr. Michael Gardam, an infectious diseases specialist and chief of staff at Toronto's Humber River Hospital. He also warned that CPAP machines might help spread the virus.

"They're one of the devices we worry about that may be responsible for some of the spread," particularly in hospitals and in long-term care homes, he said.

What is the treatment for mild cases of COVID-19? 

Michael F. asked about what to do if you have a mild case of COVID-19. Right now, there is no specific treatment for the virus. If your symptoms are mild, the best thing to do is to stay home, says Gardam. 

Health Canada's advice is the same: if you have symptoms, isolate yourself for 14 days to avoid spreading the virus. But if you're having trouble breathing or experiencing a high fever that doesn't break, Gardam suggests going to the hospital for treatment, which could include oxygen and acetaminophen.

Doctors answer your questions about the coronavirus in Canada, including whether cloth masks are a good idea for essential workers. 3:54

If a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, can they get sick again with the virus later?

This question is on the minds of many Canadians, including Jeff L. 

Since this is a new coronavirus, little is known about it and experts don't have an answer to that question yet. 

However, infectious disease expert Dr. Allison McGeer in Toronto says there's "good reason to hope" that if you've had COVID-19 once, you'll be protected for at least a few months or a couple of years. But she can't be sure. Read more about what we know about the virus in here.

I have an elderly relative who lives on her own and needs my assistance. How do I safely visit to help with her needs?

Many Canadians, including Alyssa and Jackie, want to know how to care for older friends and family.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch admits it's a challenging situation, because everyone needs to practise physical distancing, and the elderly are a vulnerable population. But some seniors who live alone need help.

Bogoch says the best thing to do if you have to make a house call is practise impeccable hand hygiene, and to make sure anyone who has symptoms does not go inside.  

Doctors answer your questions about the coronavirus in Canada, including whether you can safely cook or bake for others while physical distancing. 4:25

On Monday we answered questions about delivered groceries and pregnancies. Read here.

We're also answering your questions every night on The National. Last night, doctors answered your questions about the coronavirus in Canada, including whether you can safely cook or bake for others while physical distancing. Watch below:

Keep your questions coming by emailing us at COVID@cbc.ca.

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