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Local health experts offer guidance for students return to school after holiday break

If a child is feeling sick or is showing symptoms, school districts say - stay home
Posted at 6:20 AM, Jan 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-05 09:20:28-05

Students are heading back to school after the holidays, and some are catching colds, the flu virus, or COVID-19. School districts on the Central Coast say, if you’re feeling under the weather, stay home.

“If the symptoms are there and they're being tested, it's best to keep them home. We ask that they keep them home just to lower the risk because it's happened where parents think 'Oh, it's probably just a cold and they'll send them to school,'" said the Lucia Mar Unified School District lead nurse Anna-Liza Pacaoan.

Physicians at Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center said that many of the symptoms of COVID-19 can be similar to other infections, but there are a few unique to COVID.

“Be a loss of taste and smell. The rest of the symptoms are pretty general to viral infections, such as colds, symptoms, you know, congestion, runny nose, sore throat, body aches, and muscle aches, which of course can be seen with the flu, even vomiting can be seen with the flu. So I would say the more specific hints that it could be COVID is having a positive household contact or close contact that has been diagnosed with COVID 19 or loss of taste and smell," said Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center pediatrician Dr. Mathieu Deschutter.

The school district is working on a distribution plan to get at-home testing kits to students, but they haven’t received them from the state yet. The students go back on Monday, January 10th.

“If the proper precautions aren’t being followed carefully, I think that will cause not only an increase in COVID cases but other viral diseases,” said Dr. DeSchutter.

Figuring out if someone has allergies or a cold, flu or COVID-19 can be difficult to differentiate.

At Lucia Mar Unified School District, officials say students and staff should stay home if they are feeling unwell and notify the school if they tested positive or if they have been in direct contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.

Direct contact is someone who has been within six feet for at least fifteen minutes over a twenty-four-hour period of time, according to the district lead nurse at Lucia Mar Unified School District.

"I think what a lot of parents don't understand also is that when there's a positive in the household, the quarantine period ends up being longer just because the risk is higher in the household. And so it ends up being a 20 day quarantine period if that positive individual cannot truly isolate in the home,” said Pacaoan.

The CDC recently changed the isolation and quarantine recommendations from ten days to five days, however, those changes do not apply to public school districts in California, at least not right now, according to Pacaoan.

People can head on over to this website to check out COVID-19 testing site in San Luis Obispo County, or here for locations in Santa Barbara County.