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B.C.’s daily health checklist for children going to school shortens to just 7 symptoms

Click to play video 'Symptoms removed from daily health checklist for B.C. kids' Symptoms removed from daily health checklist for B.C. kids
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonie Henry explains why 10 symptoms, like sore throat and runny nose, have been removed by the B.C. Ministry of Health checklist for students going to school. – Sep 21, 2020

The B.C. Teacher’s Federation is concerned about the recent amendments of the daily health checklist for school-aged children in the province.

What was once a checklist of 18 symptoms has now been changed to seven.

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New health guidelines for sending B.C. kids to school sick – Sep 22, 2020

Parents are required to make sure their children are healthy enough to go to school and the daily health checklist is one way to do that.

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“It’s a balancing act to make sure children are able to attend school as much as possible and minimizing the risk that they pose,” B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday.

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A number of possible COVID-19 exposures in B.C. schools – Sep 21, 2020

Read more: Coronavirus: List of B.C. school exposures

The checklist used to consist of the following symptoms:

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  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough or worsening of chronic cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose/stuffy nose
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Abdominal pain
  • Skin rashes or discoloration of fingers or toes

However, the daily health checklist now looks like this:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough or worsening chronic cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting

If a child has any of these symptoms that are not related to a pre-existing condition, such as allergies, then the child should stay home from school and monitor the symptom for 24 hours. If it gets worse, or other symptoms develop, then they should get a health assessment.

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“So that’s the key thing: if you have a slight runny nose by itself then that, in and of itself, is not a reason for a child, and we’re talking about children here, to necessarily stay home from school,” Henry said, adding that parents need to make that decision.

Henry said a parent can keep a child home for 24 hours and monitor them if they only have one symptom and it’s mild as children often pick up mild colds that clear up very quickly and are not indicative of COVID-19.

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The BCTF said it understands the motivation behind changing the checklist but president Teri Mooring said she would have like to see more communication with them and with teachers around the changes as it is causing a lot of confusion.

Read more: Several more COVID-19 exposures reported in B.C. schools

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“These kinds of changes need to be communicated especially with everything being looked at so closely right now,” she said.

“I now understand the motivation behind those changes was ensuring that students aren’t prevented from going to school if they have allergies, for example.”

Mooring added the bottom line is that if anyone feels ill, they should not go to school.