Fort Worth, Texas,
10:08 AM

6 COVID-19 Questions About Children Answered

From testing to symptoms, here's a look at Cook Children's most frequently asked questions regarding the novel coronavirus

We know questions about COVID-19 are at the top of every parent's mind. To provide the most up-to-date information regarding symptoms, testing and going back to school, we've compiled and answered some of our most frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Now that schools have opened, who needs COVID-19 testing?

Rapid testing for COVID-19 can be helpful to promote isolation for positive cases, and to prevent prolonged unnecessary isolation for those children exposed to COVID-19 or with questionable symptoms. The symptoms that most likely warrant testing are combinations of the following: fever and headache, vomiting, diarrhea, congestion, loss of taste or smell, cough, muscle soreness, extreme fatigue and shortness of breath. Children with diabetes may see unexplained difficulties with sugar control. Any combination of these symptoms should be taken more seriously if there has been a known contact with a COVID-19 case.

Does a child who has had COVID-19 need a negative test to return to school?

While we have seen some schools and athletic programs requiring a negative test in order to return, this is based on outdated guidance. Testing may remain positive for weeks after symptoms have passed but does not mean that the child remains contagious. The current guidance is that students may return when their symptoms have resolved for 24 hours AND they are 10 days since the start of symptoms. In practicalities, most of these students will be waiting until the 10 days pass. If a child was hospitalized, it is recommend that they wait 20 days from the start of symptoms.

If a child is exposed to COVID-19, can we end their quarantine early with a negative test?

Testing is reasonable if symptoms develop to make a diagnosis, but quarantine should continue for 14 days from the end of the last contact. A negative test should not provide false reassurance as symptoms could continue to develop throughout the 14 day period despite a negative test.

Many parents are concerned about whether their child is at more risk for COVID-19. Which patients are at risk for more severe disease?

Risk factors for severe disease at any age include: cancer; COPD; immunosuppressed state due to organ transplant; obesity (BMI >30); serious heart disease such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, and cardiomyopathies; sickle cell disease; and type II diabetes.

Individuals with the following conditions MAY be at increased risk for severe diseases: asthma; stroke; cystic fibrosis; hypertension; immunocompromised state due blood or bone marrow transplant, steroids, or immunosuppressing medications; neurologic conditions; HIV; liver disease; pregnancy; pulmonary fibrosis; smoking; thalassemia; and type I diabetes.

Children who are medically complex, who have serious genetic, neurologic, metabolic disorders, or congenital heart disease might be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, as well as children with obesity, diabetes, asthma and chronic lung disease, or immunosuppression.

What do you do when a child has a family member who is at risk for severe disease? Does the child’s age matter?

In this situation, distance learning might remain the best option for this family. Because the disease can be contracted at any age, this should not factor into the decision. While child to adult spread may not happen as easily as adult to child, there are studies that show it does occur.

Do children who are planning to do virtual learning need to have their vaccines updated?

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS), vaccine rules are still in effect regardless of whether a student is participating in on-campus or virtual learning.

Read more about Cook Children's recommendations for safely returning to school on our website.

*This post includes information provided by Marc Mazade, M.D., medical director of Infection Control and Prevention at Cook Children’s and Justin Smith, M.D., pediatrician at Cook Children’s Pediatric Trophy Club.

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