To determine if a child with symptoms can stay at school, the guidance begins by ruling out any child who either needs emergency care, or whose symptoms are to the point that they are unable to participate meaningfully in child care or school activities, OR they result in a need for care that is greater than the staff can provide without compromising the health and safety of other children. Children in those cases need to be either provided with emergency care, or potentially sent home until symptoms improve. For symptomatic children who do not meet the above criteria, the guidance provides recommendations based on common symptoms – for example, with cough and cold symptoms (which may include a runny/stuffy nose, sore throat, sneezing, congestions, body aches, or cough), the child may attend school or child care unless the child has one of the following:
Difficult with or rapid rate of breathing
Cough severe enough or child cannot catch breath after coughing
For a cough suspected to be associated with asthma: coughing that cannot be controlled by the medications that the child care or school has been instructed to use
This is just one example of common symptoms. The guidance addresses several others, including abdominal pain/stomachache, diarrhea, earache, and fever.
The guidance also provides recommended protocol on both sending a child home and returning the child to care or school. As a reminder, the guidance provides considerations for children in a variety of settings, including child care centers, early childhood education sites, preschools, all K-12 schools (public, private and charter), and before and after school programs. The guidance has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics CA, the CA Association of Communicable Disease Controllers, and the CA School Nurses Organization.