A Tale of Sniffles and Covid Testing for our Kids
Across the country, our little ones have lined up and marched back into carefully spaced and sanitized classrooms. Parents, teachers, and administrators are wrestling with the tricky follow up questions on how to handle the classroom when anyone involved exhibits Covid-19 symptoms.
In an example close to home, the lovely woman who creates our graphic designs has a son with seasonal allergies. Armed with doctor’s notes on his symptoms, which resemble early Covid-19, he headed to elementary school. Despite the notes, it wasn’t long until he and his siblings were back at home, waiting for the negative test results that would grant re-entry. Safety first, and a family faces the challenge of interim quarantine.
In this case, the class did not quarantine with him. Or the teacher. Imagine that process being triggered repeatedly as we go into the sniffles season.
Our artist was relatively lucky. She was able to get her kids tested, and the wait was under two hours. There were early reports on the schools reopening and needing children tested and labs simply not administering tests to children under age 12. The early thought process was that children were not carriers and labs had not updated their guidelines to reflect the findings and demand.
The other twist in the world of children and coronavirus is that vaccines are not being developed for use with children. Typically, vaccines are tested for all ages, so Covid-19, is an exception. The major researchers do plan to add children as vaccines go to final phases. The typical steps would be to start with teenagers and the work down to children of younger ages and smaller sizes. Parental approval to join the trials is required so finding participants might be a challenge.
Children would not be expected to react to vaccines as “mini adults”. In A Covid-19 Vaccine for Children May Not Arrive Before Fall 2021 Carl Zimmer notes that children’s biology may be different in ways that affect the efficacy of the vaccine. Their smaller airways may be less able to handle low levels of inflammation that would be harmless to an adult. Full testing is required on appropriate dosage and side effects before the vaccine can be available to children. As noted in the title, this means a vaccine may not be in place for the beginning of the school year 2021.
The good news is that children remain in the low risk group.
So, what does this mean in the world of kids, coronavirus, and schools? Keep your tissue box close. Our year of sniffles, testing and quarantine has begun.