Remember the days when we would wake up with a runny nose and our parents would load us up with Tylenol, pack our lunch, and shout, “You’re fine. You’re going to school”?
Ah, the good old days when the common cold wouldn’t force our entire homes to isolate from school, work, friends, and family.
Parents reading this will likely agree that it’s extremely frustrating and inconvenient to have to keep one, two, or three kids home because of a little runny nose. Some are even immediately taking their kids for a COVID test when they present common cold symptoms. Doing so will force all unvaccinated individuals in your household to isolate while results are pending, typically between one to three days.
We don’t have to do this. It’s important for parents to realize that “runny nose or congestion” was officially removed from the Western Quebec School Board’s COVID-19 Symptom and Health protocol prior to the school year this fall. It’s not clear how well this is known among local parents, as many we spoke to admitted to keeping kids home for several days for the “runny nose dilemma.” Some of these parents are even keeping their other kids home as a “precaution”, even though they don’t present symptoms. I am guilty of this as well.
Problem is, if you Google “runny nose Western Quebec School Board COVID-19” one of the first searches that pops up is the school board’s COVID policy from February that named “runny nose or congestion” as symptoms. While the new policy was sent out this fall, it’s usually a lot easier to search Google than our inboxes. Parents are busy. As soon as we spot “runny nose or congestion” as a symptom, we panic.
In no way should we send kids who are feeling unwell to school. That’s not the point here. But we also shouldn’t immediately jump to get a COVID test if our children clearly have common cold symptoms. Nor should we hold our entire household hostage when one of the kids sneezes three times. This trend is keeping kids out of school for longer than they need to be. While this doesn’t seem like a major issue for younger students, there is concern for Grade 6 kids who are preparing for the big jump to junior high. Will these “precautionary” days off lead to ill-prepared junior high students?
With two elementary-aged students myself, I admit I am guilty of doing the same. I don’t want to be “that parent” who sends their kid to school with a runny nose. But I also don’t want my children to start junior high at a disadvantage for missing weeks of class because they had the sniffles.
So the next time one of my children gets a cold, will I be deceived? Probably. But I’ll try to remember what my parents used to tell me when I was home “sick” from school: “If you’re well enough to watch TV, you’re well enough to go to school.”
I apologize in advance if I’m ever “that parent.” Most of us will be at some point this year.
Thankfully, Quebec recently announced that all schools in the province would be rolling out rapid testing during the week of Oct. 11. This could save a lot of headaches for parents.