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Ask the Experts: When Should My Sniffly Child Return to School?

Each week, the health professionals advising Foote's reopening is answering parent questions about Covid and school. Answers will be published on Foote's website and in our weekly parent e-newsletter, This Week at Foote.

Submit your question to Andy Bromage, Director of Communications, at abromage@footeschool.org.


My child was kept home because they have the sniffles. How do I know whether it's a mild cold or possible COVID-19? And when should they return to school?


By Kathy Lufler & Ann Regan, Foote School Nurses, and Dr. Camille Brown, Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine & Foote's consulting pediatrician

Individuals with COVID-19 can have a range of illness from asymptomatic infection to severe illness. Fortunately, children usually have mild illness and have much lower rates of hospitalization and death than adults. However, this can make it tricky to know if mild symptoms such as a new runny nose could be due to COVID-19 infection.

Foote’s daily, online health screening helps to identify any new symptoms that could be due to COVID-19. If your child screens red, stay home and contact the Foote Heath Office. Our nurses will help to determine the significance of the symptoms and if they may be related to any other reason such as known allergies. 

If your child is acting sick (especially with cough, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell)—or if the Health Office determines the symptoms need further evaluation—you should contact your medical provider for an evaluation and/or testing.

At this time, it is impossible to tell the difference between the common cold and COVID-19 without testing. However, evaluating a child’s specific medical history, risk factors and recent contacts will make a big difference in determining whether a test is needed or recommended.

In most cases, Foote School will require Covid testing or a note from your child’s medical provider assessing that your child’s symptoms are unlikely to be COVID-related. The bottom line: If your child is sick with any new symptoms, keep them home and contact the Foote Health Office (203-777-3464, or healthoffice@footeschool.org) to determine the best course of action.

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Since 1916, The Foote School has provided child-centered education that nurtures creativity, excellence and joy in learning.

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