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Faking coronavirus: Winnipeg parent pushes schools to screen kids before being sent home

A Winnipeg woman says her daughter was sent home for being ill despite the fact she wasn't sick.
A Winnipeg woman says her daughter was sent home for being ill despite the fact she wasn't sick. Getty Images

A Winnipeg parent says she fears students will fake being sick in order to be sent home early because of the new health protection measures in schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Sarah, who Global News is identifying by her first name to prevent the identification of her child, says her daughter went to her school’s office Monday claiming to have a sore stomach.

Read more: Manitoba government warning possible COVID-19 exposures at 2 Winnipeg schools

My daughter, historically, has been known to call home sick and a sore stomach is usually the problem,” Sarah said.

Usually, Sarah talks to her daughter and gets her to stay and call her mother back in a few hours if she wasn’t feeling better.

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“Nine times out of 10, she wouldn’t call me back,” Sarahs said.

Back to School in Manitoba
Back to School in Manitoba

“She would end up being fine because she wasn’t sick. Something was bothering her, gave her a sore stomach, anxiety, whatever you want to call it.”

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However, this time, the school told Sarah to pick up her daughter right away, citing COVID-19 restrictions.

Now that Sarah’s daughter knows her mother doesn’t have a say, all she has to do is say she has a sore stomach and she will immediately be sent home, she said.

“I’m concerned that, you know, she might take a little bit advantage of that.”

Sarah said she understands and agrees with staff not taking any chances when a child has symptoms, but said maybe schools should use a screening tool before sending kids home.

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She was told by the school office that staff won’t “grill” every student who comes into the office saying they’re sick.

“And I’m thinking, well, you don’t have to grill them, but maybe asking a few questions … a sore stomach definitely doesn’t fall in line with COVID symptoms.”

Read more: Winnipeg schools ready for start of strangest school year in recent memory

Radean Carter, senior information officer with the Winnipeg School Division, said schools are doing their best with the rules they’ve been given, and that this isn’t a new issue.

“Students pretending to be sick to ‘skip’ school is not unique to the COVID era and something we have dealt with in the past, and will deal with again in the future,” she said.

“When a child presents as ill to the school office, the parent or guardian is called and the child goes home.

“It is the parent or guardian’s responsibility to have a discussion with their child about the importance of being in school and learning.”