My Child Has Covid Symptoms. Can They Still Go To School?

It can be hard to know if your child has coronavirus or another winter illness.
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It’s only been a couple of weeks since the kids went back to school – and if your child has so far managed to dodge the many germs that have been thrown their way, they’re doing well.

It’s fair to say a lot of parents are currently bracing themselves for a winter of illness – whether it’s from coronavirus, RSV, coughs and colds, flu or norovirus.

And with yet another new strain of Covid-19 doing the rounds (which is why vaccines for those who are eligible have been brought forward), a question that’ll be top of mind for some is: can my child still go to school with coronavirus symptoms?

What are the symptoms of Covid-19?

There are quite a lot of symptoms associated with Covid-19, including:

  • High temperature or shivering (chills)
  • New, continuous cough
  • Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling tired or exhausted
  • Aching body
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Blocked or runny nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Feeling sick or being sick.

According to Patient.Info, the main symptoms of the new Pirola variant in particular are:

  • Aches and pains
  • Continuous cough
  • Change in taste/smell
  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat.

How to tell if your child has Covid-19

Routine testing in schools ended last year and fewer people are testing at home, too.

If you do test your child with an at-home test and the result is positive, the Department for Education advises they should stay home and avoid contact with other people for three days.

Meanwhile, adults who test positive for Covid-19 should stay home for five days.

If you don’t have access to tests, it can be tricky to know if your child has Covid-19 as the symptoms are so similar to other winter illnesses.

The NHS suggests kids should stay home from school if they have a high temperature or do not feel well enough to go to school or do normal activities.

Once their high temperature has passed, or they feel well enough to resume normal activities, they can go back to their studies.

“If your child has mild symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat or mild cough, and they feel well enough, they can go to school or childcare,” the NHS advises.

Should your child go to school if you test positive?

Providing your child doesn’t test positive or show signs of Covid-19, they can still go to school – even if an adult in their household has it.

Government guidance says: “Children and young people who usually go to school, college or childcare and who live with someone who has a positive Covid-19 test result should continue to attend as normal.”

What to do if your child has Covid-19

If your child has Covid-19, keep them at home and make sure they get lots of rest and stay hydrated. You can also offer infant paracetamol if your child is feeling unwell.

Encourage your child to cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when coughing and/or sneezing and to wash their hands after using or disposing of tissues.

If you need to leave the house for any reason, the advice is to: wear a face mask, avoid crowded places, regularly wash or sanitise hands, and cover your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze.

If they seem very unwell, are getting worse or you think there’s something seriously wrong, call 999.