Two more schools in Sydney tested positive for COVID-19. Should parents be concerned?
Schools throughout Australia welcomed students back this week. On Monday this week, over 80% of students in NSW returned to schools. The government is touting it as a successful transition back to the classrooms but many parents dreaded school re-opening.
The day after kids in Sydney returned to school, students from two schools in Sydney East tested positive for coronavirus. Both schools are now closed for deep cleaning and staff and students have been told to self-isolate at home.
Parents are naturally worried about their kids. The two most recent cases were kids who contracted the virus after returning to school. In the news everyday, we read about cluster outbreaks and the terrible new COVID-19 related disease that is attacking children in America.
Some of our parents have told us of their fears and concerns about school re-opening. They know they don’t have much choice but they cannot help feeling frightened and worried for the kids.
This week we write updates about COVID-19 that directly impacts parents. We hope this information can give our parents some assurance when dealing with these worrying times. We know it is hard but if we support one another, we can get through it.
School Shutdown Because Of COVID-19 Will Be Common
Gladys Berejiklian, the NSW Premier, has warned parents that cluster outbreaks would be ‘common’ as students return to school. NSW Education Department has confirmed over a dozen cases of temporary shutdowns throughout Sydney since last week. This will likely continue for the remainder of the academic year.
Australian infectious disease experts say it is rare for children to be infected by the virus. So far, coronavirus has proven to be less infectious than the flu or other serious illnesses.
The government is telling parents we really don’t have to panic because they will act quickly and swiftly to contain the disease when discovered. It is not very assuring to some of us but we’ll have to put our trust in the system.
As parents, we can put measures in place to keep our kids safe like social distancing and hygiene. These measures are discussed later in the article.
The United States of America has reported a rise in COVID-19–related symptoms in young children. Kids with the multisystem inflammatory syndrome will need immediate medical attention. So far, 26 states are on the alert for this alarming development. However, it is important to point out that the number of infected children (only 56 at the time of writing this article) is small.
The symptoms do not resemble classic COVID-19’s symptoms and mostly include stomach pains, vomiting, fever, and a rash. Most of the children affected have required hospital treatment and some have suffered coronary artery damage.
There are no reported cases of Kawasaki disease that is linked to the coronavirus in Australia. If your child has a fever, abdominal pains, or symptoms like a rash or conjunctivitis, you may want to contact your GP for a consultation.
How To Keep Our Kids Safe
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to halt temporary school shutdowns because of the coronavirus.
Our kids need to return to school. The best thing parents can do is to explain the situation and to encourage them to practise safe distancing and personal hygiene when they are at school.
How To Talk To Your Kid About School Closure
Kids have just returned to school. They will be upset if they are told to stay home again. Some children can become stressed. They may be afraid of contacting the disease. Talking to your children will help them understand the situation.
When discussing school closure with the kids, be honest. Explain that shutdown can occur again and if it does happen, it is to protect them, their families, and their teachers.
Answer their questions. Kids ask questions because they are worried or confused. Deep cleaning the school will eradicate any trace of the virus on surfaces. Self-isolation is an effective way to contain the spread. The disease has a 14-day incubation period.
Stay calm and assuring when talking to the kids. Kids can pick up your emotions easily.
Monitor their online activity. There are many conspiracy theories on the internet. Older children may need a separate talk about what they read online.
Practise Safe Distancing
It’s hard to tell the kids not to hug or ‘high five’ their friends in school. Perhaps you can encourage them to do a cool ‘elbow bump’, ‘fist bump’, or ‘foot shake’ instead.
Explain the science to them. For instance, research has shown that a ‘fist bump’ can transmit less than 10% of the virus compared to a handshake or a hug.
Start the ‘elbow bump’ at home with the kids. Everytime they remember to wash or sanitise their hands, celebrate with an ‘elbow bump’. After a while, they will do it naturally because it looks so ‘cool’.
Encourage Good Hygiene
Schools in NSW have provided hand sanitisers for students to use. Your kid is not going to use it unless you explain to them its importance in reducing coronavirus spread.
If you make it a habit, your kids will automatically clean their hands without being told to do so. Leave hand sanitisers in the home and encourage the kids to use them. Get them to wash their hands when they come home from school.
Give them a packet of tissue and teach them to blow into it or the sleeves of the shirt or blouse when they have to sneeze. Tell them not to touch their faces when they are in school or to sanitise their hands first if they must touch their eyes, nose, or mouth.
Keep Your Family Safe From Coronavirus
Stay informed on what’s happening in Australia and around the world. The more information you have the more you can protect your family. The Health Department has a daily update on the virus you can read here.
If you think your kid has been exposed, call your GP or the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 0800.
How Far Away Are We From A Vaccine?
There are 100 coronavirus vaccines in the pipeline and nearly a dozen are now in human-testing. Parents can feel a little assured that one of the human trials is in Melbourne with about 130 people involved. It is the first human trial in the Southern Hemisphere. If successful the vaccine could be rolling out as early as late 2020.
A vaccine is on the way. Hang in there. Stay strong for the kids.